Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Video review: "An Education"
A good though not great film, "An Education" will be most remembered as the coming-out party for Carey Mulligan.
Previously a virtual unknown, she delivered a career-launching performance -- and earned an Oscar nomination -- in this drama about a young English girl who gets caught up in a whirlwind of romance with a dubious character in 1961 London.
Although the film didn't light any fires in its theatrical run, movie lovers are poised to discover Mulligan's nuanced, layered turn as "An Education" hits video stores.
Mulligan plays Jenny, a working-class girl whose entire existence seems to revolve around meeting her parents' expectations that she get into Oxford. She dreams of escaping her bourgeois confines and seeing the world, and meeting people "who know lots about lots."
One day she meets David (Peter Sarsgaard), who represents everything she desires: He wears sleek suits, drives a rare sports car, goes to mod parties and whisks her off to Paris for romantic getaways. Though at least twice her age, the charismatic David convinces Jenny's parents (Alfred Molina and Cara Seymour) to condone the affair.
As Jenny edges closer to ditching her future -- despite the warnings of her English teacher (Olivia Williams) and headmistress (Emma Thompson) -- some cracks appear in the attractive pedestal upon which David is placing her.
Danish director Lone Scherfig brings an outsider's touch to this very British tale, showing the allure of both worlds in which Jenny rests a foot.
Extras are the same for both DVD and Blu-ray.
There is a rather conventional 9-minute making-of documentary, consisting of the usual collection of actors and filmmakers complimenting one another. Another 8-minute featurette, "Walking the Red Carpet," covers the film's Los Angeles premiere.
Eleven deleted scenes totaling 16 minutes are generally non-essential but interesting.
The most consequential is an alternate ending in which David confronts Jenny one last time and tries to woo her back. I'm glad I saw it, but at the same time, watching it only reinforces the wisdom of leaving it out of the final cut.
Scherfig, Mulligan and Sarsgaard team up for a lively and entertaining commentary track. It's so rare to see a director and her principal cast members engaging one another, and this engaging trio offer plenty of insights, and laughs.
Movie: 3 stars
Extras: 3 stars