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An Education Not a Nick Hornby Movie At All

Published October 19, 2009 in Movie Reviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of respective holders
An EducationAn Education
I feel like I was tricked into seeing An Education. I saw that Nick Hornby wrote the script but it wasn’t based on any of his books so I assumed it was a cool new Nick Hornby story. Only when I got there did I realize that it was still an adaptation, though of someone else’s memoir, so it’s not a Nick Hornby movie at all.

Review: An Education


It starts off well, with an upbeat view of old ‘60s British etiquette. It’s not that funny though. Jenny (Carey Mulligan) is a teenage student, aspiring to Oxford University, who sees through the proper British routines. She meets an older man (Peter Sarsgaard) who introduces her to a new world of culture and class, but threatening her educational goals.

Oh, look how stodgy the authority figures are. It’s true, but we still have to sit through it. Her dad (Alfred Molina) is exhausting to watch with all his flustered worry. The kids seem to have a healthy perspective on things though.

Talking about art and literature is not as cool as talking about music. It should be, but maybe Horny’s heart isn’t in it. Jenny learns how relationships really work so maybe that’s Hornby for kids.



It’s dry and British all right, but there are few punch lines. It’s just doddering around. Oh, how delightful the dumb trophy girlfriend is. I guess the banana is a punchline but it’s not a clever one. I guess Brit’s can be as contrived as American romantic-comedies.

The life Jenny experiences is seductive. You want nice things for her. I’m old enough to see the smug and emptiness of his shallow debauchery though. She’ll get there too. The film does explore old values and the dilemmas they cause. It also shows that the school system in western countries hasn’t gotten any more relevant. Still, I was just waiting for her age to come already so I could go home.

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Fred Topel
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