Saturday, February 6, 2010

An (unbelievable) Education

There's something that irritates me about Lone Scherfig's film An Education, nominated for best picture in this year's Academy Awards. Perhaps it's the fact that the subject matter has all been done before - in particular, the now-hackneyed nostalgia for the early-1960s, and in particular the story itself......On the surface there is really nothing wrong with this movie. It's comptently made and the acting sufficient...... But this is one too many films set in the late-1950s & early-1960s which, while ostensibly being a critique of the social mores of that period, in many ways seems nostaglic for it (the women's clothes, men's svelte mannerisms)......As for  the film itself, a reasonable attempt has been made with the costumes, but the gleaming period cars taken out of storage, look like they've been taken out of storage. The few blocks of  the vintage-era streetscapes also look contrived..... The plot itself is tired. Bored teenage girl (Carey Mulligan as Jenny Miller) with intellectual and artistic aspirations wants to escape from humdrum suburban London life, which must have been really humdrum in pre-Beatles Britain. SPAM anyone (and I don't mean email)? She has a dominating father (Alfred Molina as Jack Miller) who's more than a little over the top as a disciplinarian......The story itself seems improbable though I understand it's autobiographical based on a memoir by Lynn Barber. So who am I to argue?..... But the fact Jenny ends up cavorting with a rich artsy grifter (David Goldman played by Peter Sarsgaard) seems far-fetched. David opens Jenny's suburban eyes and fulfils her intellectual if not romantic dreams. Despite her fascist-of-a-father Jenny's parents still let her out of the house, which is difficult to believe. Only Jenny, in the end, can discover the validity of the world to which she has been exposed.....This film has the look (confined sets, short takes) of a made-for-TV movie. Oscar material, I don't think so.

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