Released in October 2009, An Education - A British coming of age film set in 1961 - has received much critical acclaim. Yet, despite eight BAFTA nominations, a nomination for a Golden Globe and numerous glowing reviews, this film seems to be relatively unknown amongst the masses, and now that I've watched it and I can clearly see why.
The film follows smart, talented and pretty schoolgirl Jenny who thinks she's got life sorted - she'll pass her exams, go to Oxford to study English Literature, and away from her controlling father she will listen to French music, have many cultured friends who she will talk to about very clever things all the time in French, and practice her cello whenever she wants to, etc. But one afternoon after an orchestra rehearsal, standing in a bus stop in the rain, she is offered a lift home by a charming older man (David) and so starts a romance which makes Jenny question the value of her Education.
The film explores many areas which; despite the film being set in the 1960s, are still relevant today. The questions Jenny asks herself about the importance of passing her exams and going to Oxford are echoes of thoughts I (and I'm sure many other teenagers) have had. The contrast between David, his glamorous friends and lifestyle (and whose only education was from the `university of life') and the `boring' life led by Jenny's English teacher and headmistress (both women with good degrees) is obvious, and as the viewer you can understand why Jenny makes her choices. But, the film's conclusion is smart, and without denying the temptation and rewards of the lifestyle David is offering Jenny, it goes on to show just why an education really is important for a young woman.
But, this isn't a film for everybody. It's a clever, subtle film exploring the value of learning with very little action and though there are opportunities for laughter, it is because of a dry and witty comment made by Jenny or David. However, for those who enjoy this kind of film (and I am definitely one of them) then `An Education' is one of the best films released this decade with great actors, a brilliant script and the power to make you question and change your views about education.