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An Education


A favorite modern movie of mine is An Education. Starring the charming Carey Mulligan it tells the story of a young girl who becomes involved with an older man and briefly has non-traditional education. One of the lovely things about this film is Mulligan's character, Jenny, comes through the other side relatively unscathed and seeks a real education, even managing to get into Oxford and continue her life as if the interruption had never happened.
What I love about An Education is while it follows the idea of other stories: older man, younger girl, it never attempts to show the girl as the seductress. Since Lolita emerged so many of these stories are re-cast to show how the man was led astray by the girl, but with An Education Jenny enters as a mousey, bookworm (this direction is no accident, as unlike other films with similar plots the narrator for once is the girl). This is no more obvious than on her first date when she stands in sharp contrast to blonde Helen (Rosamud Pike) who towers like a glamorous giant in furs and diamonds beside under-dressed Jenny in school girl plaid. This costume direction that highlights their differences is no accident, nor is the transformation Jenny starts to undergo through the loan of Helen's old clothes. Even as her hair gets bigger and more obviously styled and she starts wearing makeup Jenny is torn between two worlds--the pink toned lure of playful adulthood in Paris and mature dresses and the cold-grey reality of school uniforms, homework, and the actual business of growing up.
Aside from the messages sent through the clothing, as a vintage lover the wardrobe is a delight for the eyes. I covet Jenny's bow topped hairdo in the final scene and Helen's wardrobe every time she appears in the movie. This film is definitely worth a watch if it somehow slipped through your radar before now.