Wednesday, 17 February 2010

An Education - Dominion Cinema - 17/2/10

Married slum landlord seduces schoolgirl before robbing her of her virginity without ever telling her that he is married, has a child and has done the same thing to several other pubescent girls some of whom have fallen pregnant by him.

That's really the story of "An Education" which is "based on" an article that journalist Lynn Barber wrote for Granta and which later formed part of her memoir. However, because Barber is a bit posh and went to Oxford the British film industry has decided to sell the story as a romantic coming of age tale featuring a fearless young heroine. If Barber had been brought up on an Essex estate in the 1980's and had never gone to any university, never mind Oxford, then I would be willing to bet that this film would have been given a very different treatment by the critics and would never have been given any Oscar nods.

You want supporting evidence? Where is the best film nomination for "Fish Tank" which also deals with an older, married man seducing a pubescent girl? Why no best actress nod for Katie Jarvis from the same film? What about a BAFTA nomination? Nope, the tale of a young working class girl finding her way in the adult world gets no recognition but "An Education" is swimming in award nominations.

Funny that.

Don't get me wrong, this is a good film with a fine performance from Carey Mulligan as "Jenny" (essentially Lynn Barber) and the supporting cast are all terrific too but it does seem that the "industry" has a real thing for painting "upper class" sexual predators as being rogues and then falling over themselves to praise those films (see "The History Boys" for more evidence) but can't bring themselves to offer the same level of praise for a film that features the same characters but from the working classes.

It's a shame that a film I enjoyed has left me pondering the machinations of the industry instead of ruminating on the film itself.

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