An Education is a coming-of-age story about Jenny Mellor (played by the very pretty and adorable Carey Mulligan), a bright young schoolgirl who is set to pursuing her dream of going to Oxford but whose life changes upon the arrival of David Goldman (played by Peter Saarsgard) in her life. He is a man over twice Jenny's age and whose charm she couldn't resist because of his fine choice in music, his maroon-colored Bristol car (a very rare one at that time), and the fact that David took her to different social and cultural activities which our young heroine very much enjoyed. Jenny embraces the life for which David and his two constant companions, Danny and Helen, have made her experience and eventually she falls in love and enters a relationship with him albeit finding out the truth about where David and his friends get their money. David asks Jenny to marry him, she accepts it and drops out of school. But before they get married, young Jenny finds out the truth that David is a family man. He drives away for good. Meanwhile, it is time for Jenny's redemption. She goes back to her old school and asks the headmistress if she could repeat her final year of study but was rejected. So she turns to her old teacher, Ms. Stubbs (Olivia Williams), who is glad that Jenny wouldn't throw her life anymore so she helps her out to re-learn what she missed out on school and to prepare for Oxford as well. Jenny was accepted and went to Oxford to read English books (hey it was in the 1960s and you know where women stand back then).
The movie tells us that education comes two-fold. One is formal and scholarly (one that we can only learn in schools) and the other one is an informal kind (one that we learn beyond school). While Jenny Mellor was too busy running away with the perks of the 'socially and culturally-rich life' out there, school, on the other hand, was running out of time on her. Jenny realized it too late that education runs on a definite time and that it waits for no one. Your degree won't chase you, because it is your obligation to do so. Education may be a right, but you must also fight and prove your worth for it.
A well-deserved ending
Now we know that young Jenny must learn her lessons, and it's gotta be the hard way. People at her school warned her about the importance of education but she rejected them and their advises for an early marriage to a man who was not totally honest about his civil status. Events may have taken place a little too swiftly in the story, especially with how David swayed Jenny and her parents' belief on the importance of education. I thought that it would be a downhill slope from there, that there has to be a bigtime consequence for their actions. Although I admit that Jenny has my empathy since I understand where her vulnerability was coming from. So I was very pleased with how the filmmakers unfurled the ending. It was balanced and just. After the scene where David chickened out when Jenny found out that he's married, there were no more bullshit in the film. Jenny and her parents faced their fate boldly by setting things right. It was the right and a well-deserved ending. And I must say, the casts' acting was so fine and really of the right amount. Bravo.
Corruption of minor? Incest? Exploitation?
Sometimes numbers really do count. Given that David's age (34) is over twice as that of Jenny's (16), do you think it was a little disturbing that there were some explicit scenes in the movie such as the kiss in the car, the love-making in the bed (it only involved kissing and caressing though), and the part when old David asked young Jenny to show her breasts? I am not a conservative, I'm just being open to possible reactions. Actually, for me, Jenny's character was not exploited in the film at all. Despite her weakness and vulnerability, she remained a bright, strong, and calm lady. I loved her character.
"Nobody does anything worth doing without a degree"
... the old and wise headmistress said. Some people are lucky that they succeed in life even without a college degree. But that's why it's called luck, it won't happen to everybody. One cannot get a college degree in college without working hard for it. And if one does not work hard enough in his or her life, he or she must not also expect a pay off. We reap what we sow.
"There are no shortcuts"
Let me quote Helen Keller, "Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it." The ugly part about life is that it is so hard. But we must also remember that life also goes on and things just pass through. This is the beauty of life, there always are second chances as long as there is hope. In the movie, Jenny was given a glimpse of the life she always wanted and dreamed of. She easily got accustomed to it and was ready to give up everything to be with the man who gave her that kind of life. But Jenny didn't realize at first that that kind of life also had to be earned. There are no shortcuts to the good life. One must earn his place in it, and that could only be done with an education.
Retrieving what was lost and second chances
Lucky was Jenny Mellor because after her big mess with David Goldman, with her old school, and her future at Oxford, she was able to salvage herself, with the help of course of Ms. Stubbs and her parents. We only realize the worth of something when they're gone or lost. It's not impossible to retrieve them, but it's tough because of the price we have to pay for it, but it can be done, like how Jenny Mellor did it. And remember, do not blow a second chance.
Value your education.
For a full synopsis, go to this link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1174732/synopsis. Full spoiler alert though.