Blu-Ray Review: Award-Winning ‘An Education’ With Carey Mulligan

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CHICAGO – Lone Scherfig’s “An Education” should have won two of the Academy Awards for which it was nominated: Best Actress for the star-making work by Carey Mulligan and Best Adapted Screenplay for the fantastic script by Nick Hornby. It easily one of the best films of 2009 (my personal pick for #5 on the year) and a must-see on Blu-ray and DVD. Blu-Ray Rating: 5.0/5.0
Blu-Ray Rating: 5.0/5.0

“An Education,” an adaptation of Lynn Barber’s memoir, is about one of those life moments when someone is presented with a life-changing, concrete, well-defined fork in the road. It is a coming-of-age film like no other in a very long time; thematically complex, perfectly designed, and as memorable as any drama released on Blu-ray so far this year.

An Education was released on Blu-ray and DVD on March 30th, 2010.
An Education was released on Blu-ray and DVD on March 30th, 2010.
Photo credit: Sony Pictures Home Video

Jenny (Carey Mulligan) stands at the crossroads of both her own life and the cultural revolution about to happen in early ’60s England. She is bright, beautiful, funny and has excelled at the girl’s school she attends, exceeding all of her classmates in Miss Stubbs’ (Olivia Williams) room and even drawing the attention of the headmistress (Emma Thompson). She is on a path to go to Oxford, something that her old-fashioned father (Alfred Molina) has been encouraging for years.

An Education was released on Blu-ray and DVD on March 30th, 2010.
An Education was released on Blu-ray and DVD on March 30th, 2010.
Photo credit: Sony Pictures Home Video

As any attention-grabbing young lady does at some point in her youth, Jenny attracts the attention of an older man. David (Peter Sarsgaard) is a charmer, a guy with wealth, style, and beautiful friends. David whisks Jenny off her feet and introduces her to a world of art auctions and late-night socializing with his friends Danny (Dominic Cooper) and Helen (Rosamund Pike).

Should Jenny allow herself to be whisked off into a life where her intelligence isn’t necessarily an asset or stick to the Oxford plan that could intellectually satisfy but also leave her bethrothed to the nice-but-boring kid who lives down the street? “An Education” is about such decisions but also about how sometimes making the wrong, unexpected ones can be more of a learning experience than just choosing the right path the first time they’re presented.

“An Education” works on every single level. First, the performances. Mulligan did the best work of 2009, giving Jenny depth that most actresses would never have even considered. The naive ingenue seduced by the older man is as cliched as celluloid but she makes it feel completely new by making Jenny three-dimensional. She both feels like a completely well-rounded character and a star in the making. She’s matched by arguably the best ensemble of 2009 with great work from Sarsgaard, Molina, Cooper, Williams, Thompson, and the highly underrated Pike. All fantastic.

There are very few films a year to which a critic can point to so many elements that truly work. “An Education” should live up to its name for a lot of aspiring filmmakers. This is how it’s done.

The Blu-ray release of “An Education” includes deleted scenes, a commentary with director Lone Scherfig and actors Carey Mulligan and Peter Sarsgaard, “The Making of An Education,” and “Walking the Red Carpet”.

‘An Education’ is released by Sony Pictures Home Video and stars Carey Mulligan, Peter Sarsgaard, Alfred Molina, Dominic Cooper, Rosamund Pike, Olivia Williams, and Emma Thompson. It was written by Nick Hornby and directed by Lone Scherfig. It was released on Blu-ray and DVD on March 30th, 2010. It is rated PG-13. content director Brian Tallerico

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