At The Movies #6: An Education Feb11


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At The Movies #6: An Education

My main reason for wanting to see An Education was that the screenplay was written by Nick Hornby, author of two of my favorite books: High Fidelity and About a Boy. I read all of his novels, so the completist in me felt the need to see this movie. I didn’t know it was based on a memoir by Lynn Barber until the movie started. This let me down a little because going into it I was excited to see Nick Hornby’s first original screenplay, one that wasn’t a movie based on one of his books. But it looks like I’ll still have to wait for that because while this wasn’t based on one of his books, it was based on someone else’s.

An Education was playing at my local movie theater, The Brooklyn Heights Cinema, for a while at the end of last year, but I didn’t manage to catch it. Thankfully, the Oscar nomination for best picture brought it back there. A word to the wise about The Brooklyn Heights Cinema: the two theaters aren’t labeled, but one is the left of the ticket window and one is to the right. You can tell which theater to walk into by looking at the arrows next to the movie’s name on the ticket window. If more people noticed that, half the people in our theater wouldn’t have missed the first 7 minutes of The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus when they realized they were in the wrong theater.

The premise of An Education is very straightforward. An honors student, bored with here life of studying is swept off her feet by Peter, a sharply dressed, smooth talking playboy. The initial problem is that he’s nearly twice her age. But Jenny is mature and Peter is very sweet, so sweet that not only does their romance flourish, but Jenny finds herself having to choose between her new love or the track she’s been on her whole life, being accepted to Oxford.

‘Cause every girl’s crazy ’bout a sharp dressed man.

Peter is your classic silver tongued devil. He’s able to convince Jenny’s parents not only that they should let him date her, but words it in such a way that they end up thinking it’s their idea. The problem is that Jenny doesn’t realize until she’s gone too far down Peter’s road that if he’s so good at lying to her parents that it’s indiscernible to tell truth from fiction when he’s talking to them, that maybe he’s not being completely honest with her as well.

My favorite parts of An Education were any scene where Jenny was having a conversation with Peter’s friend Helen. Helen is very pretty, but not exactly what anyone would call smart, and anytime Jenny would innocently say something intelligent, Helen would say something dumb and I would laugh.
Every conversation between these two is good for a laugh. 
I liked An Education. I’m happy that six movies into this project, I haven’t seen a bad one yet at the theater. Do I think An Education should win the Oscar this year? No. It’s good, but it’s not movie of the year good. While I was watching it, I felt like I was watching Mona Lisa Smile, but told from the point of view of Julia Stiles’s character. I haven’t seen all of the Oscar nominees for best picture yet, but out of the ones I have seen: Avatar, Inglourious Basterds, Up and Up in the Air, I would put An Education at the bottom of that list.

What An Education might want you to do is book a trip to Paris. The city of lights is painted so beautifully in it that I wouldn’t be surprised if the Parisian Tourism Bureau was a sponsor of the film. While Peter and Jenny were watching the sunset on the Seine, my date turned to me and said “When are you taking me to Paris?”