Monday, 4 October 2010

Day 277, on which an American with a Swedish name plays a Brit in a film directed by a Dane [4.10.10]

Dag to hundrede syvoghalvfjerds. Did I mention Hoppípolla was a good song? Oh yeah, I did. Several times. Heh heh. Anyway, after finishing my English essay this evening (Pygmalion, why you so long?), I got to work sorting my collection. It's become a real mess in recent months, what with the Ishøj House, a bunch of new sets, various unphotographed MOCs etc etc. I got the Ishøj House back from my dad yesterday evening and it's slowly making its way back into my storage. I only now realise just how many of my dark grey and light grey tiles it was eating up. Also, my old post-apoc figs have been dismantled, plus a bunch of crap sitting on my shelf. It's all getting cleared up now. Phew.

So I'm guessing you're wondering about the title. Well, good for you. Because it's the focus of today's post. Yesterday I finished watching the multi-award winning British film An Education, and since I had a lot to blog about yesterday the review has had to wait until today.


Ever since I first spotted the trailer of An Education, I've wanted to see it. There was something about the style of it, the unique storyline, and the hubbub surrounding Carey Mulligan's first large role that attracted me to it. And I don't usually get attracted to British films, let alone indy ones (though Happy Go Lucky was such a rich slice of British life, I'd happily have a whole loaf of that).

The film is fronted by the relative newcomer Carey Mulligan, who plays Jenny, and won a BAFTA for her efforts too. Flanking her on the cast list is the mysterious and fantastically alluring Peter Sarsgaard (who is American, with a Scandinavian surname, playing a Brit), Alfred Molina doing his usual strict dad role, and - fleetingly - Sally Hawkins. So it's a star-studded cast, at least.

In terms of cinematography the film excels enough to look good. The 1960s style is brilliantly recreated, though some of the shots in Paris seem very strictly chosen to make sure no 21st-century details appear in the frame. That being said, there's nothing special about the photography of An Education. It's your average British cinematography job. No notable uses of colour or light, but it works for what it is.

I'll quickly overview the story. The plot is a coming-of-age tale, telling the story of Jenny, a 16-year old schoolgirl who is seduced by the glamorous yet mysterious David (Peter Sarsgaard) and has to struggle to keep up her school life with her more mature social life. Annoyingly, the plot is based off a true story - the memoirs of someone who had a similar experience - and therefore I was less than pleased with the ending, which is very abrupt and does not end on a particularly appropriate note. This can't be changed, of course, but Nick Hornby does a very good job with the storyline he had to follow when writing the screenplay.

The acting is, as it always is in a good film, enough to make the characters believable. Carey Mulligan was showered with praise for her portrayal of a girl in the 1960s coming of age just as the country was coming of age and moving out of the formalities of the 50s into the swinging 60s. I, however, don't see her performance as particularly mind-blowing. She does what is necessary, but there's nothing exceptional there. Peter Sarsgaard is brilliant in his role, underplaying it somewhat, and the rest of the cast do equally well to hold up the two main parts.

My main problem with the movie is its bluntness; half due to the disappointing ending and half due to how the storyline verges on dullness throughout the film. It never builds up enough excitement, there's no confrontations until the end and even then they don't build up to much. It's a very understated, altogether unimpressive plot that had the makings of something good but loses it in the last quarter of the film. I guess that's what happens if you base a screenplay on real life - you have to stick to the boring details.

My new system of rating the film, using a rating out of ten Js, is...
J J J - -  THREE Js

Until next time,
~John

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