‘An Education’ is a wonderful thing to avoid

The Colourful Canine and I saw the movie, ‘An Education’, this weekend. In a most remarkable turn of events, this movie has been nominated for three Academy Awards this year. This British movie is billed as a ‘coming-of-age drama’ which

‘narrates [the lead character] Jenny’s metaphorical ‘education’ in the wider sense of learning lessons about life. Yet it obviously also deals with her education in the narrower, literal sense of the word.’

Put delicately, this was a fucking awful movie.

Seriously, as bad as Mugabe.

I would give it a zero out of 10 if it weren’t for Emma Thompson’s tiny role as the anti-Semitic, kind of nuts headmistress, who uttered the hilarious line, “The Jews killed Our Lord!" As a result of her two scenes, the movie earned a solid 0.5 out of 10.

The lead actress was someone called Carey Mulligan, who should never again be cast in anything barring Plaster of Paris, and then only if it keeps her out of movies for the rest of her life (or mine). Awful actress, irritating and utterly unbelievable as an anything other than a so-called Audrey Hepburn look-alike.

Peter Sarsgaard played David, the older, allegedly good-looking man who seduces Carey Mulligan’s character, Jenny, with her parents’ permission. As the Colourful Canine remarked, this guy was creepy from the word go. There was nothing vaguely romantic about Jenny’s and David’s relationship. Their weekend in Paris, filmed with all the requisite posing and pouting and running up stairs to the sound of 60s French music, was banal and would have been amusing if it were a parody.

If only a few more Oscar categories could have been added to the list this year, as this movie would have been a shoo-in for the following prizes:

Movie scene that was meant to be humorous but was actually horrifyingly disturbing: David’s decision to produce a banana while in bed, to get Jenny’s messy virginity out of the way before using his penis.

Movie that neglects to really interrogate the messages it makes a big deal of gesturing towards: Jenny’s realisation that an Oxford (or any) education for a woman is really *only ever* necessary if that woman has been dumped by a man who was going to provide financially for her.

Movie most heavily reliant on stereotype: There is no other option but for Jenny’s excellent, pretty but obviously lesbian and alone English teacher, to be dull and gay – the ultimate threat of female education. There’s no other way to be an educated woman. There’s no other way to be gay.

The only lesson that can be drawn from the movie is not to get into cars with strangers. See anything other than this movie, please. Watch a marathon of ‘Harold and Kumar’ movies; watch home movies of your great aunt and uncle’s trip to Pakistan in 1970; watch a three-hour instructional video on crocheting.

Just don’t watch ‘An Eduction’.

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21 Responses to ‘An Education’ is a wonderful thing to avoid

  1. HotGuy43 says:

    I saw An Education this weekend too – this is the second week in a row that we’ve seen the same movie, presumably in the same venue, and somehow failed to run into each other.

    I thought it had some flaws too – although my judgement is less harsh than yours and my issues with it were different. I thought it had some great moments along the way, even if it was problematic as a whole. And I thought Cary Mulligan was wonderful – even though she’s no Audrey Hepburn and the comparisons are unfair. (She wears her hair in a style similar to Hepburn in some scenes, but that’s about it. And that was a style of the period, anyway, and not unique to Hepburn!)

    I didn’t see any indication that the English teacher was meant to be a lesbian, short of reading some additional significance into her “You broke my heart” comment when Jenny drops out of school. So she’s single … but as Jenny discovers (and you can see her revising her assumptions) the teacher turns out to have a nice home and is materially comfortable. Presumably she does have a life! 🙂

    Anyway, we need to do a detailed post-mortem on this movie when we finally get together for that drink. I’m leaving for “my city” on Wednesday, but maybe next week?

  2. Multicoloured Mongrel says:

    As a fellow sufferer through “An Edyookashin” on Saturday night, I would like to weigh in with my opinion on this snoozefest of a flick. Also, I just broke up with my boyfriend and so am feeling particularly cranky.

    I have to start off by immediately debunking two of the biggest myths in Western society, and as the two of you point out the film relies HEAVILY. The first myth is that Audrey Hepburn was in ANY WAY worth emulating. The second is that Paris is a “romantic” city worth going to more than once.

    1. Audrey Hepburn was a talentless bimbo. My mother taught me about Audrey Hepburn from a young age, as an illustration of how talent and hardwork are generally trumped by good looks and vanity in a shallow society. Hepburn was the woman who got the role of Eliza Doolittle in the movie version of “My Fair Lady” over the Broadway *powerhouse* that was Julie Andrews, simply because Hepburn was considered better looking. When it turned out that Hepburn couldn’t actually sing (slightly inconvenient as “My Fair Lady” is a musical), she had to have all her singing dubbed in.

    2. I have been to Paris. Several times. It is a charming city, full of French people, and elaborate lamp posts. It is also hot in summer, inhospitably cold in winter, expensive and pretentious. Once you’ve walked the Champs d’Elysee; wolfed some La Duree macaroons and practised saying “Je voudrais un gigolo, si vous plais”, Paris’s charms kinda run out. It is not even romantic – especially in comparison to its beautiful sisters and brothers like Vienna, Florence, Rio De Janeiro, Cape Town or even Lyon, or Estonia/ Croatia/ Lithuania (from what I hear) if you are feeling more adventurous. Paris is where fat or pasty poms go to try and pretend they are sophisticated. (See “An Education” to confirm this hypothesis). Girls – if a guy tells you he’s taking you to Paris for the weekend, ask him if you can exchange the tickets for a return trip to Tuscany and go have twice the fun!

    DBAWIW – as you say, WTF is the messaging in this film? An education is a worthwhile pursuit *if* that lovely husband of yours turns out to be a scallywag??? But otherwise – no worries, mate? Kill me please. And Peter Sarsgaard’s performance could NOT have screamed “Totally creepy criminal” more from the word go if he tried. Short of clasping his hands together like Mr Burns in the Simpsons, throwing his head back and laughing “Mooohooohahahahahaha!”, he really was giving it all he had in the creepy department. How did little Jenny not *guess*??

    HotGuy – She was gayer than a giant sign saying “I AM POTRAYING A STEREOTYPICAL LESBIAN.” She was gay gay gay gay gay. Was the portrayal a bit offensive to gay women (implying they are all lonely and isolated and unlovable) – yes , in my opinion it was. But if you didn’t see any indication, you be needin’ to be polishin’ dem glasses!! (And I need to chat to you about that lovely Ellen Degeneres and Portia di Rossi – you’re in for a BIG surprise!)

    But the one thing it *did* help me understand is who killed our Lord Jesus. That unsolved mystery always niggled at me!

  3. Charmskool says:

    Thanks for the warning – an Edu-cash-in sounds dire!

  4. HotGuy43 says:

    Multicoloured Mongrel, we might end up having a knockdown, drag-out fight when we finally meet. You have just trashed two of my greatest passions …

    Paris is magical, enchanting and endlessly fascinating – my favourite place in the whole wide world. I’ve been there more than a dozen times and have every intention of continuing to go back. (I’ll grant you it’s hot as hell in summer – so one just needs to time one’s visits for other than June-August!)

    Audrey Hepburn was a uniquely beautiful woman – and a very fine actress. To dismiss her based on her miscasting in My Fair Lady is just not … um … fair! She was cast because she was a bankable star and Andrews was at that point an unknown in the movie world. It wasn’t in anyway a criticism of Julie’s looks. To reconsider your opinion of Hepburn, the actress, I recommend you seek out The Nun’s Story and Charade, which showcase just how well she could do both serious and funny.

    BTW, she could sing – and had already done so in Funny Face seven years earlier. She had the husky voice of a nighclub singer, however, and not the trained soprano of someone like Andrews. Again, blame the producers; having cast her, they then figured they still needed a voice closer to that of Andrews and chose Marni Nixon, who I once saw described as “a technician rather than an interpreter”. Hepburn’s own recordings of some of the songs from My Fair Lady survive and she delivers them well from a communication/acting point of view. The odds are the performance has a whole might have been more effective if they’d let her do her own singing.

    And after all that, what can you possibly be implying about lovely Ellen and Portia? You’re just trying to torment me by throwing out such vicious rumours, aren’t you? What next … you’ll be pointing fingers at kd lang, Rosie O’Donnell and Jodie Foster. 🙂 I need a glass of wine and it’s not even 1.30pm yet.

  5. Don't Believe a Word I Write says:

    Indeed, Charmskool – utterly, horribly dire.

    HotGuy, Multicoloured Mongrel is right – Paris is a most average city, I’ve found. Please, PLEAASSSE, try somewhere new. You might like it. Go onnnnnn….Audrey would have wanted you to.

  6. HotGuy43 says:

    DBAWIW, as you know all too well, I have been to many other places, including quite a few of those touted by MM as superior to Paris – and I’m hoping to get to Rio de Janeiro later this year. Watch this space. Paris still leaves all the others as also-rans – although New York does run a very close second.

    When we get together, ask the Technicolor Terrier to join us. I’m more keen than ever to meet her. Let the games begin. I’ll start. Vienna??????? Oh puh-leez…. 🙂

  7. Black Dog says:

    I have been to Paris and it wasn’t all that great.

    Ok, I admit I didn’t leave Charles De Gaulle Airport, but it still counts.

    More importantly, I have now adopted a canine alias for this blog.

    — BD

  8. Don't Believe a Word I Write says:

    I think Jade Fox terrier would be more apt! hahah, Paris airport…ha ha hahaahahahha (sorry, not much sleep).

  9. Louisa says:

    Mwahahaha! The next time I see a really crap movie I am going to have to compare it and see if it’s as bad as Mugabe too. That is a pretty extreme level of bad to compare something to.

    Thanks for the review, I will avoid it at all costs. 🙂

  10. Don't Believe a Word I Write says:

    Splendid Louisa. Perhaps we can replace the ‘stars’ system with the ‘Mugabe’ system. This definitely scored a rating of four Mugabes out of five.

  11. Multicoloured Mongrel says:

    What movie scores FIVE Mugabes out of five? My nominations would be:

    1. The Milegro Beanfield War
    2. Groundhog Day
    3. Anything with Harold and Kumar in it.

  12. Don't Believe a Word I Write says:

    GROUNDHOG DAY???????????? I loved that movie, you dam full!

    Agreed, though, about Harold and Kumar. That AWFUL movie called ‘Evening’ I believe, which starred Meryl Streep’s far less talented and far more boring daughter.

    What else?

  13. Black Dog says:

    Jade Fox Terrier is not a Led Zeppelin song.

    While I am here, I must take creditr for introducing you to Harold and Kumar.

  14. Tamara says:

    Five out of five Mugabes to My Life in Ruins.

    And thank you for educating me on An Education and curing me from the wish to see it.

  15. Multicoloured Mongrel says:

    The only thing missing from Groundhog Day in the shitness stakes was Audrey Hepburn, DBAWIW!

  16. DBAWIW says:

    Haha, I recall your introducing me to Harold and Kumar. THANKS SO MUCH, CUZ!!! Just as well you made up for that by sending me some of the brilliant comics you write. Will email you.

    My Life in Ruins, eh Tamara? It rings a vague bell, but thanks to your warning, that’s all it will do. Thanks for the tip.

    HAHAHAAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHHA, ah Multicoloured Mongrel ya beauty!

  17. Bec says:

    I found this interesting because I thought An Education was quite good, actually. Sarsgaard is super-creepy but I know chicks who go batshit for him, so whatevs. But dudes – there is ZERO evidence that the english teacher is a big lez! I admit I described the teacher as ‘ever-so-slightly-lesbianic’ in my own blog post on this matter, but realistically there is nothing to suggest this other than her being single and clever and urging her not to get with the dude.
    Btw other than Emma Thompson, who was completely fucking sublime, I also thought Rosamund Pike was utterly brilliant – and hilarious – as the vacuous socialite girlfriend.
    My five-out-of-five Mugabes go to Something’s Gotta Give (yes – what’s givin’ is my sanity and ability to restrain myself from self-harming), my least favourite flick of all time.

  18. Don't Believe a Word I Write says:

    Rosamund Pike was pretty cool, yes. Christ, being a chick in the 60s must have blown. Have you watched Mad Men, dude?

  19. Jessica Elizabeth says:

    I am in utter disagreement to the original post; I found “An Education” vastly charming and would say it’s a wonderful film. Why put it under such scrutiny? There are films which are considered cinema classics and to read into them that much you’d be left with a jumble of inconsistent, stereotypical bol***ks. Cinema is an art form, and art portrays individual points of view, just because you may disagree with that viewpoint, doesn’t necessarily make it sh*t- I believe that’s called closed mindedness and it’s not a trait I exactly favor…
    You are, however, in tilted to your own opinion, but for gods sake don’t be arrogant enough to think that just because you didn’t like the film that no one else will either.

    And what is with all the Hepburn slating? Jesus, she was just a woman, no one ever claimed her to be a martyr. If you were offered a part in a major musical, like hell you would say no out of pure morality. She’s human! She’s just a particularly interesting and beautiful human, and less have been idolized.

  20. dbawiw says:

    Is “utter disagreement” near “moronville”?

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