Saturday, November 7, 2009


Carey Mulligan and Peter Sarsgaard in "An Education"

This afternoon, Dante and I went to see An Education, which I rather liked. But afterward, as we were walking back to the subway he mentioned that he thought the acting and the screenwriting were good but the directing was too stodgy.

He thought that the stiffness was okay for the parts when the 16-year-old protagonist, Jenny, is at home in her middle-class suburb of London, but that when she gets whisked into a world of concerts and champagne and art auctions by a suave older man (played by Peter Sarsgaard), the filmmaking should have gotten freer. (New York magazine's film critic, David Edelstein, said something similar: "Lone Scherfig’s direction is glum. We’re so clued in to what’s really going on that we never share Jenny’s authentic excitement at being introduced to art, music, and exotic locales.")

I agree that the direction is rather conventional, but it didn't in any way detract from my enjoyment of the film. Of course, though I never had an affair with an older man and grew up in a much different time and place, I was quite similar--in interests and aspirations--to Jenny when I was a teenager (I even played a string instrument and shared her love of existentialists; I am still obsessed with French culture), so perhaps Jenny's thrill at being a part of this life of style and sophistication was just naturally more palpable to me than to Edelstein or my boyfriend. As far as the direction goes, I think it serviced the narrative just fine, which is strange since I generally like more formalism in my movies. But I guess sometimes having a story is enough.

*Interestingly, I actually reviewed Lone Scherfig's last movie Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself for my college paper here. Warning: I wrote this as an undergrad; I think that's all you need to know.