An Education Lone Scherfig

An Education Lone Scherfig
It's interesting; the titular "education" here is that of a young woman's coming-of-age ― Jenny's (Carey Mulligan) ― wherein her idealism is crushed and she learns that all we can depend on is ourselves. Juxtaposed is the drudgery of academia and self-sufficiency required for seeming freedom, but, really, what could a woman in the early '60s do beyond teaching or using her English degree to keep her breadwinning husband amused? Herein lies Jenny's dilemma, being on the cusp of an Oxford education and discovering David (Peter Sarsgaard), an older man of means, who presents to her a world of fancy dresses, formal events and Paris getaways ― something school can never provide. Of course, the misanthrope, or pragmatist, observes that total dependency is an act of subordination, destined for misery. The point of interest here is that 40 years later, many women still seem to perceive self-purpose in landing a man with money that will pay for their children, despite having opportunities far greater than that of Jenny, albeit opportunities that require assimilation to male-defined signifiers, but opportunities nonetheless. Contextually, this gives An Education its current relevance and appeal, observing the gender divide and road to female wisdom, which Carey Mulligan's naïve but aware performance fully embodies, as framed by Lone Scherfig's observant direction. Where Nick Hornsby's humdrum script reduces secondary characters to caricature (Alfred Molina and Rosamund Pike must have thought they were in a Farrelly brothers movie), Scherfig's character-driven approach gives Mulligan the opportunity to flesh out someone written as a flimsy, passive object of desire. The commentary track on the DVD with Sarsgaard, Scherfig and Mulligan addresses this approach, of course praising the script, as does the "Making of" supplement, wherein the actors discuss working on a film concerned more so with relationships than plot mechanics. Also included is a "Red Carpet" featurette, where everyone talks about how shocking the North American success of the film was to all. (Sony)