An Education parents guide

An Education Parent Guide

This film has little real wisdom to teach any other floundering youth.

Overall D+

Jenny (Carey Mulligan) is a young girl with dreams of going to university and developing her talents-- or at least that is the plan her father (Alfred Molina) has in mind. But when she meets David (Peter Sarsgaard), a playboy who is handsome, rich and nearly twice her age, she decides to follow the path he offers. Her choice leads to a very different kind of education.

Release date October 9, 2009

Violence B+
Sexual Content D+
Profanity B-
Substance Use C-

Why is An Education rated PG-13? The MPAA rated An Education PG-13 for mature thematic material involving sexual content, and for smoking.

Run Time: 100 minutes

Official Movie Site

Parent Movie Review

Jenny (Carey Mulligan) is bright, beautiful and on the brink of becoming a student at Oxford University—or at least that’s the future her pushy parents (Alfred Molina and Cara Seymour) have envisioned for her. And regardless of some rebellious feelings born of perceived oppression, the teen is following the plan.

Then she meets David (Peter Sarsgaard), a handsome stranger and professed music lover who offers to give her cello a ride home in his fancy sports car one wet afternoon, so her instrument won’t be ruined in the rain. The unusual introduction to the thirtyish man eventually evolves into a date. Despite their age difference, David gets her father to agree to the proposition by employing his most lavish charm. While Jenny finds the smooth operator’s schmoozing amusing, because he can manipulate others into doing exactly what he wants by making them think it was their own idea, she neglects to recognize the similarities between his methods and the tactics he’s using on her.

Pulled into the wealthy playboy’s world of concerts, nightclubs and expensive pastimes (which include a lot of smoking and drinking), Jenny is completely swept off her feet. Taken under wing by David’s friends Danny and Helen (Dominic Cooper and Rosamund Pike), the pair helps the adolescent play adult by dressing her up in some heavy makeup and costly clothes. Meanwhile David dangles appetizing weekend excursions and trips to Paris in front of her hungry desire for excitement. His enticements effectively coax Jenny along a road leading away from her family, her studies and her ethics. The trail eventually leads to David’s bed.

Watching the stealthy, subtle seduction of this naive child is as discomforting as witnessing a pedophile in action. His suggestion that they just be “romantic” turns into letting him just “take a peek” and finally into the agreement that Jenny will lose her virginity on her upcoming seventeenth birthday. (The audience is privy to these conversations, which include some sexually explicit discussion, along with seeing the girl’s bare back and shoulders when she reveals herself and a few shots of the couple in bed.)

Although Jenny blithely believes she is in control of the situation, viewers with a shred more maturity than she possesses will find they are just waiting for the inevitable disillusionment that always follows any offer “too good to be true.”

When those consequences do come, the production switches into voice-over narration to explain what life lessons Jenny has learned. Unfortunately, the soliloquy smacks of self-justification rather than the expected remorse or recognition of mistakes. From the opening moments of the movie, Jenny’s character appears to feel smarter than those around her—smarter than her parents, her classmates, her teachers, David’s friends and perhaps even David. And as it comes to a close, she still sounds like her “education” has made her superior to her peers. Sadly, that leaves this film with little real wisdom to teach any other floundering youth.

Directed by Lone Scherfig. Starring Carey Mulligan, Peter Sarsgaard, Alfred Molina, Lone Scherfig. Running time: 100 minutes. Theatrical release October 9, 2009. Updated

An Education
Rating & Content Info

Why is An Education rated PG-13? An Education is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for mature thematic material involving sexual content, and for smoking.

The central theme of this movie is the sexual attentions of an older man for a girl who is sixteen going on seventeen. His flattery, lavish gifts and an enticing lifestyle draw her to him, and they do eventually sleep together (the act is not shown, although there are a couple of instances when this couple is seen in bed together). Sex is discussed between this adult and minor on several occasions, including an explicit conversation about first-time intercourse. At a man’s suggestion, a girl uncovers her chest so he can look at her. Classical paintings of nude figures are seen. Throughout the film adult and teenaged characters smoke and drink. A teen uses smoking as a way to appear more mature. A man drinks alcohol when he is faced with a particularly difficult task. Several mild profanities and a few moderate profanities are uttered, along with the use of terms of Christian deity as expletives. Some derogatory racial remarks are made about Jews and Negros. Characters lie to others when it suits their own interests. Illegal activities are alluded to, and a theft is depicted.

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An Education Parents' Guide

From the beginning it appears David is using Jenny. Why? In what ways is she also using him?

Jenny’s parents and teachers encourage her to “work hard” so she can go to University, where she will “work hard” to eventually graduate, so she can get a job and “work hard.” Why does their plan seem boring to her? Jenny defiantly questions the point of it all. If you were to counsel this teen, how would you answer her queries?

When things eventually go badly, whom does Jenny blame? How much of the responsibility is theirs? How much is hers?

Home Video

The most recent home video release of An Education movie is March 30, 2010. Here are some details…

Release Date: 30 March 2010
An Education releases to DVD and Blu-ray with the following extras:
- Deleted Scenes
- The Making of An Education
- Walking the Red Carpet
- Commentary with director Lone Scherfig and actors Carey Mulligan and Peter Sarsgaard

Related home video titles:

Younger women also fall for the charms of older men in the movies Sabrina, Shadowlands and South Pacific. Another teen girl gets more of an education than she expected when she starts Riding in Cars With Boys.

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