January 2, 2010

Carey Mulligan in An Education (2009)

Jenny (Carey Mulligan) slogs through a dull dinner in An Education.

An EducationA star is born only once. For 24-year-old actress Carey Mulligan, it happens in director Lone Scherfig's coming-of-age film, An Education. 16-year-old Jenny (Mulligan) is a schoolgirl growing up in miserably dull 1960s London, Oxford University set in her sights because that's what smart girls are supposed to do. One day, she meets the much older David (Peter Sarsgaard), who introduces her to a glamorous world filled with art, dancing, and jaunts to Paris. Mulligan, whose previous film credits include a supporting role as Jane, the silly and overlooked sister in the Pride and Prejudice (2005), plays the intelligent, sure, but naive Jenny with great emotional translucence. When her eyes shine and she giggles and smiles, she's conveying not only her character's plainspoken joy, but also a young actress' delight at diving into her first substantial role. It goes both ways for the audience as well: the pleasure of watching the film isn't merely in following Jenny as she falls headfirst into making her first big mistake; it's the suspicion that grows with each scene that we're watching a star.

Gallivanting in Paris with Peter Sarsgaard, post-makeover.

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