An Education | Chicago Reader

An Education

In London during the early 60s, a precocious 16-year-old schoolgirl (Carey Mulligan) is seduced by a middle-aged grifter (Peter Sarsgaard) so good at his game that even her Pooterish, superficially vigilant parents (Alfred Molina and Cara Seymour) see nothing amiss. This British drama is handsomely textured and beautifully acted, though the script (by comic novelist Nick Hornby, from a memoir by Lynn Barber) often feels giddily out of touch with the essential creepiness of the scenario. Director Lone Scherfig and cinematographer John de Borman partially offset the oddly chipper tone with a gorgeously oppressive, gradually darkening color palette, and as a dual portrait of low-level criminality and lower-middle-class insecurity, it’s unique and indelible. The excellent supporting cast includes Olivia Williams and Emma Thompson as strong-willed schoolmarms with opposite responses to the heroine and her situation. PG-13, 95 min.

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