March 30, 2010

The (mis)Education of Jenny

The DVD of An Education, based on Lynn Barber's memoir, comes out today. I had puritanical misgivings about watching a movie where a 16 year old is seduced by an older man. And maybe it was a sign of the times (it was the swingin' 60s after all), but I was unnerved by how her parents (a much put-upon Alfred Molina and vulnerable Cara Seymour as Jack and Marjorie, respectively.) actually encouraged and supported the entanglement.

The film is beautiful to watch, with the ordinariness of suburban English life contrasted with the alluring high society shenanigans of thirtysomething David (Peter Sarsgaard), his friends Danny (a sleek Dominic Cooper) and Helen (a funny but slightly tragic Rosamund Pike). So I can see what the attractions are for 16 year old Jenny (Carey Mulligan's absorbing, Oscar nominated performance) who desperately wants to avoid the boring fate of her mother/homemaker and singleton teacher Miss Stubbs (the formidable Olivia Williams). The clever schoolgirl smokes, idealizes French life and culture, and plunges headlong into an affair with a suave older man. Headmistress (an appropriately intimidating Emma Thompson) tries to keep Jenny's recklessness, youthful optimism and naive self-confidence in check.

Our heroine thankfully learns her boyfriend is a creep and comes to her senses. But the movie's premise still left me queasy.


Pinky said...

There were a few scenes/situations which made me uncomfortable while watching the movie. But I found myself mostly surprised too at her parent's reaction when she announced she getting married and was dropping her dream of going to Oxford (or was it Cambridge). I mean they were so elated and didn't question it after they were so intent in having her get in. I guess the fate of the woman at that time is to find a husband to take care of her and have a family. That made me queasy.

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