Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I don't want to lose my virginity to a piece of fruit!

Wow, y'all. I finally saw An Education Saturday night, and ... wow. I haven't seen anything that stuck with me like this in a very long time.

I won't bother with plot summary -- that's what the IMDB is for -- but I sort of HAVE to talk about it.

It was funny, it was stylish, Carey Mulligan is a revelation, the script (Nick Hornby!, based on a memoir by Lynn Barber) was great, and but the movie was at times just ... wincingly painful, which is part of what made it so good. This girl, Jenny -- she's a girl, a CHILD, and when the dashing older man David sees her for the first time, there's no getting around it -- he's not seeing some teenager glammed up to look much older than her years; she's sopping wet in a rainstorm in her school uniform. This is extremely hard to defend on his part -- I mean, it triggers VIOLENT feelings in me to think of mid-thirties men leering at teenage girls, no matter what the time period -- and it's to Saarsgaard's credit that he carries it off; he actually doesn't seem creepy, just ... I don't know, wistful and self-deluded or something. And the way he's able to contre-pied her parents, making them think it's their idea to allow Jenny such latitude where he's concerned ... amaaazing.

And the thing is, I understand it from her point of view too -- I was a brainy, striving teenager with a head full of ideas about books and travel and music and culture once, and we all wanted to be seen as older and more sophisticated than we were; that's why older men appeal to young girls: They seem to have it all figured out already. They don't have to learn how to navigate life, awkwardly and in fits and starts, along with us the way boys our own age do. If an older man with the world at his feet takes an interest, it's all too easy to believe he's on the level -- you really ARE special! He really DOES just want you for your mind! And the young person is at such a disadvantage -- they don't know, they can't know, that that's not the way the world works. For me, fortunately, there were only ever just dreamy crushes on men I knew I'd never even meet. (side note: Not only would my own parents have made the man in question wish he'd never been born, but also, my own character would not have allowed a thing like this, honestly; I sensed early and strongly how much I dislike power imbalances in relationships, and it would be hard to be more imbalanced than this -- unless the older guy was in a position of authority in her life, like a teacher maybe. Ugggggh.) For Jenny, there's an exciting, intoxicating romance that ends painfully, and a truly immense life lesson learned young -- as Jenny realizes in the end, "For the life I want, there is no shortcut."

Anyway. Altogether wonderful. Loved this movie. And now I want to see Carey Mulligan in everything, always.

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Blogger Amblus said...

I have the biggest girl crush on Carey Mulligan EVER. Love her.

1:53 PM  
Blogger Gleemonex said...

I have already cast her as Camilla in my fantasy HBO series adaptation of The Secret History.

3:42 PM  
Blogger Panda!!!! said...

SUCH a great movie, and I also wanted to see Carey Mulligan in everything/anything as a result. Also, LOVED her teacher - Olivia Williams managed to convey sympathy, anger, fear and jealousy all at once.

1:20 PM  

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