Reel Matt

This blog started as my movie marathon — watching a movie a day for a whole year — and has continued as a place for me to write reviews about movies, TV, and various other items.



Oscar Predictions

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An Education

Film #209


A coming-of-age story about a teenage girl in 1960s suburban London, and how her life changes with the arrival of a playboy nearly twice her age.

Year 1, Day 206

BEFORE: We’re in the home stretch of Oscar month now with all but one of the remaining films having been released within the past four years with An Education taking today’s slot. The film was nominated for three Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Actress (Carey Mulligan), and Best Adapted Screenplay, however, it failed to win any.

AFTER: Sometimes classic, oft-heard tales can still be entertaining despite knowing what will happen. Other times the stories can seem repetitive and boring because, again, you know what’s going to happen. An Education, is a classic girl meets guy, falls in love, finds out some deal breaker in the relationship, things change. For the most part, I enjoyed it. I didn’t care that the story was predictable because the characters themselves were well written and acted. What I do care about, and what’s preventing this film from graduating summa cum laude, is the highly coincidental nature of events.

Carey Mulligan and Peter Sarsgaard are wonderful as Jenny Mellor and David Goldman respectively. Through a combination of the writing and the acting, I really felt as if these characters were real people that existed in real life. They weren’t overly dramatized compound characters or lifeless bores. They were real people and the chemistry between them and others (especially between Jenny and her father - played by Alfred Molina) was just phenomenal. I found myself laughing, worrying, and just plain feeling for them.

But there’s another aspect of believability that the film misses and that deals with the extraordinary amount of coincidences, or rather, the amount of things that fell into place way too easily. Now this may seem a bit hypocritical because I said I found the story enjoyable. The reason being is I liked the other elements enough (read: characters) that I was willing to forgive this one. However, that doesn’t excuse it from being a problem looking at the film after-the-fact. The problem is how quickly Jenny and David fall in love (after a very brief meeting during a rain storm) and then seemingly breeze past problems (David’s profession, Jenny’s future path) that should require more time to deal with rather than brief passing remarks. Again, it’s not that big of a problem and one that’s very easily to look over, but there’s just a part of me that wonders how much better this film could be.

An Education may not seem like the most original film, and in a way it isn’t. But there is so much more to like about this film than the story. The two main characters, played by the wonderful Carey Mulligan (who was more deserving than Sandra Bullock for the Academy Award; Meryl Streep was also pretty good, not sure about the other contenders), Peter Sarsgaard, and the great execution provided some quality entertainment. Definitely consider giving this a watch, especially if you have a romance chain coming up in February (some great planning on my part there, not).

RATING: 4 out of 5