I went into this film with high expectations. However, since the film was so boring (for me), it took a while for it to have an impact on me. After all, I live in a province inhabited by many people known for not favouring formal education that much (,  and ) and even an appropriate use of the French language.
The story takes place in the 1960s in London. Jenny (Carey Mulligan) attends an all-girl school and hopes that getting outstanding grades will help her to go to Oxford. While waiting at a bus stop in the rain with her cello, she comes across David (Peter Sarsgaard), who charms her into letting him drive her home and also who is also twice her age. As time goes by, David and Jenny will be more than just friends. Besides, compared to other boys she's met, David looks self-assured, mature, cool and seems smart.
This is why David makes a better impression on Jenny's parents than Graham (David Beard), a boy of her age who looks a tad childish. However, as her relation with David becomes more serious, her entry into Oxford becomes more uncertain. Furthermore, her parents believe that one way or another, Jenny will have to get married and become a housewife. All in all, as Jenny wonders what's the point of studying (when the society expects women to find a husband who can take care of them), she'll also try to figure out what's the best future for her.
As many people have said, An Education's main boons are the script by Nick Hornby and the direction by Lone Scherfig. Of course, the storyline is a little bit predictable if we judge it from the trailer. Nevertheless, Hornby's pen is more effective in giving us a view of the characters' mind than a pistol-grip drill. Speaking about the characters of David, we're surprised to see a character who sincerely cares about Jenny. However, Saarsgard's brilliance definitely manifests itself when he has to deal with the fact that David's life is built on something that will evidently break Jenny's heart.
As for Carey Mulligan, she certainly is a revelation in this film. Of course, I'm not going to regurgitate what other bloggers or professional critics have already said about her, for I doubt my wording is better than their. However, I'd still like to say that this British actress sure has a knack for displaying the right feelings as she effortlessly inhabits Jenny. Moreover, it's also nice to see Mulligan being supported by solid actors such as Alfred Molina, as her father, or Rosamund Pike, who plays Helen (David's intellectually empty friend).
In conclusion, the only weakness with An Education is definitely its slow pace. While watching the film, you may have the feeling that the ending (the part when David and Jenny have a short argumentation) really takes too much time to come. Other than that, enjoy it for the presence of many layers of subtlety in Nick Hornby's script and the performance by the cast.
Carey Mulligan, Peter Sarsgaard, Alfred Molina and Rosamund Pike