Tuesday, March 27, 2012

What I learned from Lone Scherfig's An Education

Directed by Lone Scherfig
Written by Nick Hornby and Lynn Barber
★ Carey Mulligan, Peter Sarsgaard


Contains spoilers
The message of Lone Scherfig's acclaimed coming-of-age movie is neither surprising nor very eye-opening. Most of us female creatures have heard it at least a dozen times while growing up, from our parents, teachers, the magazines and so on.
We're fortunate. We take our possibilities for granted. We need to fight harder. We need to be able to survive without men's help.

When I hear the expression "early marriage", I think of it as negative thing, something I wish I would never hear again. A picture pops up in my head, showing a young woman, doomed to stay in the house and prepare dinner while two of the five babies are screaming in the background. The highlight of her day is meeting the other housewives at the playground and talking about the latest episode of some soap opera.
But what if early marriage and being a housewife is equal to „listening to Jazz music and going to Paris!“? Now that sounds a lot more fun than sticking your nose into books for years and then working 9-5 while trying to sustain your friend- and other relationships.
What AN EDUCATION managed to do was make me relate to an intelligent girl who wants to abandon her studies in favor of the fun-seeming idea of marriage. And the fact that the film succeeded in doing that is by itself pretty amazing.

Of course, sitting in your cosy armchair, you are forced to question the happiness and bright-looking future of this young girl. Something has to be wrong, life is never as easy as it seems. Which is the reason why most people wouldn't have chosen to abandon their studies in real life, but if the filmic protagonist hadn't chosen to abandon her studies, there'd be one great movie less in the world.
And let's be honest: who has never dreamed of throwing all those school books into the garbage? Who has never dreamed of  taking the easy way, thinking it'd be different in your case, it'd work out in your case? I have.
Without stories like AN EDUCATION, a lot of people might think that way, and a lot of people would take a decision they would be happy about for one moment, but regret later.

You might say now, that Jenny (the protagonist) could have continued her wonderful life full of fun, if only she had ignored the fact that her fiancé was already married. 
Indeed, she could have done this - but it would have made her a cold, heartless shell.
"Your heart can be broken", the film seems to be telling us, "so don't ever rely on the things it holds dear".
Be independent, you can still find love and give away your heart. Just keep your shell safe, so that your heart doesn't become homeless once it's broken. 

And that, Ladies and Gentlemen, is the one of the least romantic and most inspiring lessons I have learned from the movies.


  1. Beautiful review! I liked the movie a lot, particularly the performances by Mulligan and Rosamund Pike. I thought it took a bit of an easy way out by showing he was married - if he wasn't it would be a much harder decision for her. Chosing education was a right decision, because then she will at least have something to hold on to, when the things don't work out in life when it comes to romantic relationships.

    1. Thanks! No wonder this film kick-started Mulligans career, she was so natural, I could really relate to her - not only her decisions and thinking but also her body-language and general behaviour.
      I loved Rosamund Pike in Pride & Prejudice, and she was very good in this one too.

  2. I freaking love this movie. Jenny is probably the character that I've learnt the most from.

    This is a beautiful review, though. It basically sums up my thoughts o the movie!

    1. I knew how much you loved the movie because you actually mention it a lot. But not only you, a lot of people that have a similar taste in movies as mine, loved the film, so I was very eager to see it.
      And of course, the director is Danish, so that was another reason.
      Thank you.

    2. Good review of a good movie! I thought being set in the past might make it uninvolving, I was pleasantly surprised. So how keep your shell safe? friends and family is my answer to the question! Also important not to have tons of expectations, becomes a burden, you can't control what others do.

    3. Thank you, Chris.
      Friends and family are important, just having a life of your own, even if you're married (or about to get married). And make sure you can survive without the help of others.

  3. I really enjoyed this one. Carey Mulligan was great and I loved the period setting. Most of all I liked the way it portrayed a relationship between a man and a woman that subverted the conventions we are so used to seeing (or trying to avoid) in Hollywood's typical romance movies.

    1. What an unexpected comment!
      I'd very much like to rewatch An Education some time and see what I think this time. Although I do remember it very well, especially now that I re-read my review. It's an interesting relationship, like you said, an portrayed by some wonderful actors.
      ... Must say I'm growing a bit disappointed in Mulligan though. This isn't a good year for her.


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