I’ve always found it better to love or hate something, to feel nothing being the worst of all, be it for a person or even a supposedly heavily touted Oscar contender such as Nick Hornby’s newest feature ‘An Education’. Unfortunately, even immediately after watching it, it left no discernible impact other than a confusion as to how it is so universally admired.
Countless stories now and forever have been written about young women throwing their lives away for smooth-talking, handsome gentlemen who can offer them the world, but here, our heroine is 16 year old Jenny Miller (Carey Mulligan), the product of two parents who would rather know interesting people than be interesting themselves. Naturally when David (Peter Sargaard) enters their world, both she and her parents fall head over heels for him, so much so that everyone is willing to forget of Jenny’s dreams of attending Oxford.
There’s not much else I can say that happens because honestly, not much does. The plot develops so slowly and so gently that I wondered at several stages had I entered a mild coma. Here is a world populated by dim but nice people, whether they are well educated or not, few seem to have any degree of real common sense or measurable intelligence. Even the scenes of occasional colour and vibrancy are so sepia in tone that it’s no wonder they’re all bored, in fact a mild case of kleptomania here and some adultery there is understandable, most reasonable people would be experimenting with lighter fluid and matches if the same were to happen to them. The only significant twist comes at the last possible moment, being so derivative in nature that it feels like Grange Hill with a larger budget, and even they gave Zammo a drug problem to contend with.
The acting, like the script itself is perfectly average, with so little significant character development or story for that matter, the cast do an ordinary job of breathing life into characters that spend most of their time talking nonsense (except for an occasional anti-semitic reference to David being Jewish). Mulligan, tries to show charm in a role that seems to be on auto-pilot but regardless of all her character’s supposed reading and love of culture, it’s so terribly pretentious and idealistic that you at least hope she gets properly throw in front of the bus to learn her lesson like a real woman would. Instead we are treated to a last minute smugness as to how she’s better than her contemporaries and how wonderful it is that life worked out for her. Sargaard’s David on the same vein, has little to offer even in terms of being a significant foil for Mulligan or generally being an unsavoury character that he’s never more than a stock character with far too many lines.
Overall, it is too gentle for its own good, never going anywhere or saying anything that hasn’t already been said before with more passion or direction. A very, very beige movie that is unlikely to leave a lasting impression.