“An Education” – Every girl needs one

Carey Mulligan and Peter Sarsgaard in an "An Education"An Education is a carefully-crafted film about a young woman’s first seduction. The film was based on British journalist Lynn Barber’s real-life coming of age memoir. It is also a disquieting and seductive Lolita tale.

As the story unfolds one watches as a beautiful and intelligent teenage girl is caught in a web of seduction woven by a con man twice her age. Jenny, played by the incandescent Carey Mulligan, trapped in the dreary, respectable suburb of Trickham. A bright girl she is cramming for admission to Oxford as she plays French love songs and dreams of Paris
An Education is a complex film and at times disturbing to watch. It shows a bright young woman on the brink of womanhood in an era when women were receiving mixed messages. During the war women did all sorts of jobs, from driving ambulances to toiling in factories and working on important intelligence operations. After the war, many meekly headed back to the hearth and home.
Jenny’s father is conventional and status-seeking, but he also urges his daughter to work towards Oxford and academic achievement as way of bettering her life. One of her teachers gives her similar encouragement. The year the film takes place is 1960, right before London becomes the epicenter of the “youth quake” and a new social order.
Jenny’s seducer, David Goldman, a suave con man brilliantly portrayed by Peter Sarsgaard, knows only too well how to impress and beguile her naive, social-climbing father. Jenny looks on, embarrassed and amused, as he flirts with her usually cowed middle-aged mother and chats up her father about art, culture and Oxford. She can hardly believe it as her father waves them on their way.
When Jenny discovers that David is a rogue and a thief, she remains enraptured with the life he is offering. She has been well and truly seduced, swept away by a taste of life she had been able only to imagine. Even the disappointment of her first sexual encounter does not dim her enthusiasm for the posh life she envisions.
A school girl plays with fireThis is a beautiful, brilliantly acted film. The story is compelling and timeless. There is an element of the irresistible in Jenny’s seduction. Most intelligent young women long for art, culture, romance and an  older sophisticated lover to show them the world.
Jenny’s affair with David almost causes her to forfeit her future. Actually, it might have cost her a good deal more than her admission to university had she become pregnant, gotten involved in his criminal activities, caught an STD – or a combination of any or all of the above. Sadly, these things happen to bright young girls all the time. I’ve heard many versions of these tales, albeit, not quite as fraught with drama or style. If only young girls would learn to value themselves more and not toss themselves away on unworthy men. If only bright young things would have more faith that romance and glamour will come in time. How much better to wait a few years and have a glamorous romance with an older man –all of 25!
Some say it’s wrong for young girls to long for a prince. I think it’s inevitable. We just have to make girls smarter about picking them. Jenny’s teacher, who helps her get into Oxford, tells her "Jenny, you’re pretty and you’re clever. You can do anything. Your boyfriend, does he like pretty and clever?"  That’s what we need to teach young women: A true prince loves you because you can do anything.

Oscar picks

Our Deb Williams is an avid film buff. She shares her thoughts on the Oscars, which will be awarded this Sunday, March 7. But first here are a few of my own red carpet-worthy nominees. I too like to sit in the dark and watch flicks – especially in this stellar year for "Uncle Oscar".

Up in the Air garnered many nominations, all well-deserved. This brilliant satire by nominee writer-director Jason Reitman captures the alienation and isolation of today’s modern work environment. There are brilliant performances by the whole cast, especially nominees George Clooney, Anna Kendrick, and Vera Farmiga. Funny, sad, human, and relevant. Go see it.
Crazy Heart has a tour de force performance by Jeff Bridgesthat has landed him a leading actor nomination. Maggie Gyllenhaalis nominated for best supporting actress. She positively glows in the role.
Colin Firth in stylish and moving " A Single Man"Colin Firth is also nominated for best actor in the very stylish and compelling A Single Man. It is the to-die-for debut film of designer Tom Ford. Both Carey Mulligan in An Educationand Helen Mirrenin The Last Stationare recognized for films you may have missed. Carey Mulliganwill be a huge star — mark my words. The Last Station, which also has a brilliant performance by Christopher Plummeras Russian writer Leo Tolstoy,is so underrated it makes we want to scream. Be sure to see them both!
Here are Deb’s thoughts about this year’s Oscar-nominated films.
Avatar has been nominated in a plethora of categories, one of which is best film. I, along with other millions, saw the film in all its 3D splendour. I found the film lacking because of its weak plot and sub-par acting. Although it was entertaining, so are other adventure/action films from the past. In the end I was left with a throbbing headache and a sinking feeling that I would never get back those wasted three hours. Avatar fails to win my vote.
Kathryn Bigelow’s Hurt Locker, on the other hand, proved to be a gripping film. It brings to life the reality faced by an American bomb disposal squad in Iraq. The realism and brute emotion makes this film a must-see. It not only brings the war to the forefront, but it captures the lives of these young men who put themselves on the line every day to try and save innocent civilians. The film is captivating. The action brought me to the edge of my seat.
Sandra Bullockis nominated for her role in The Blind Side. It’s a tear jerker, but Bullock’s flawless charm helps to make it a timeless classic. The Blind Side is the true story of NFL player and Baltimore Raven Michael Oher. In a time of digital madness and the unnecessary use of gore, this homey film is a welcome change.
But Meryl Streep is a tough rival in the same category. Her portrayal of Julia Child in Julie & Julia is nothing short of stellar. She even inspired me to attempt Child’s famous beef bourguignon. It was fabulous! It made me more enthusiastic about French cooking.
Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin will host this year’s Academy Awards.I will be rooting for films that not only bring the silver screen to life but also inspire us to take a step back and truly cherish those around us who unknowingly make our lives so much sweeter.
Do you have a favourite we missed? Let us know. Or, do you disagree with one of us? Share your opinion with other DD readers by emailing us at domore@dolcedolce.com and we will print it. After all darlings, that’s entertainment!