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An Education


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: Rosamund Pike's performance was the most interesting thing in it.

: I felt more for her character than for anyone

Really, more than Sally Hawkins' character? I was too distracted by trying to work out who Pike was and what I knew her from.

Matt

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So, if asked about this film's theology, what would you say?

(Can you tell that I'm being asked?)

I'm inclined to say it has none. Or, at least, the characters don't bring up religion or faith, and seem to have no direct affiliation with any particular religious faith. And while the film suggests generalities about "Be sure your sins will find you out." And "One may smile, and smile, and be a villain.”

I suppose there's the schoolmaster's speech about the Jews and the killing of "our Lord," but that's revelatory of prejudice and cultural Christianity, not much more.

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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Watched the DVD this evening. It most felt like a Benjamin Button version of Up in the Air. That's not an endorsement, by the way. Why do movies have to give up just when they could really be interesting and original?

It's the side effects that save us.
--The National, "Graceless"
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tyler1984 wrote:

: Watched the DVD this evening. It most felt like a Benjamin Button version of Up in the Air.

Um ... how so?

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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tyler1984 wrote:

: Watched the DVD this evening. It most felt like a Benjamin Button version of Up in the Air.

Um ... how so?

Well,

Education's crucial plot point going into the third act is the same as Up in the Air's, except that the switcheroo happens to a teenager instead of a middle-ager.

Edited by tyler1984

It's the side effects that save us.
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tyler1984 wrote:

: Watched the DVD this evening. It most felt like a Benjamin Button version of Up in the Air.

Um ... how so?

Well, Education's crucial plot point going into the third act is the same as Up in the Air's, except that the switcheroo happens to a teenager instead of a middle-ager.

That is an absurdly reductionist dismissal.

There is this difference between the growth of some human beings and that of others: in the one case it is a continuous dying, in the other a continuous resurrection. (George MacDonald, The Princess and Curdie)

Isn't narrative structure enough of an ideology for art? (Greg Wright)

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And the Benjamin Button part...?

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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All I meant with the Benjamin Button line was that the protagonist is younger here than in Up in the Air. I realize it's not the best connection, but I was tired last night.

More specifically, I was really bothered by

Danny equating Jenny's silence when they stole the map to his not telling Jenny that David was married. The woman with the map was a stranger, whereas Danny and Helen were supposedly Jenny's friends; I know that doesn't make stealing okay, but equating a single small event with a persistent and emotionally damaging pattern of deception rang really hollow to me.

Also, the scene

where Jenny confronts David's wife was bizarre. It seemed like she didn't care about David's affairs, or was the point that "settling for marriage" is so emotionally deadening that it saps you to the point where nothing, even meeting your husband's 16-year-old lover (with your son by your side), moves you at all?

I wished Jenny's parents had been given more/better material to work with, too. I felt like they belonged in a sitcom. And really, would

any parent, at any time, really let their daughter go off to Paris for a weekend with a guy twice her age that they barely know?

I concur with the other people in the thread who have mentioned the pacing of the last act, too.

Despite all that, though, I liked a lot of Carey Mulligan's performance, and the scenes involving school and Jenny's girlfriends and teachers were handled well.

It's the side effects that save us.
--The National, "Graceless"
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An Education does have one strong correlation to Up in the Air and Benjamin Button for me: Disappointment. I sat there at the end of all three films asking, "That's it? I spent my time and money to arrive... here?"

Edited by Overstreet

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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I'll withhold the praise that's dying to pour forth from me for this movie until I see it again, but my first and only viewing -- a few months ago now -- made a hugely positive impression on me. The only reason I haven't gone to bat for the film in this thread is that the movie ended late for me, and I wondered if my bleary state might have affected my judgment.

I've meant to watch the film again for weeks now, but have yet to get to it. Was very impressed the first time through, however.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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I just finished this not even five minutes ago and it killed me. Just killed me. When this happens, I've got to relay my feelings more personally, that's the only way I can best sum up why I allowed myself to be so given to this film: I have a daughter. She's seven. Her name is Genesis Elise. She is a blessing from above, and when I consider the people in this situation, Jenny in particular, played to absolute perfection by Carey Mulligan, I am afraid to death for my child. So that has a lot to do with it, I'm sure.

I'm also a messed up, hopeful, recovering and recoverable, but still aching-on-the-inside person who longs for Christ. One that has stupid, deepseated sex issues, probably like most people on the planet. Not that I've had a lot of sex -- I've actually only been with my wife. It doesn't mean that I don't have sex issues, and that the mind is not prone to betray me. Sex, to me, has been the most beautiful and trusting act, like a pure prayer to one another, a showing of longing and desire and perfect acceptance for another human being. That's the good side. There's also the selfishness, hurt, resentment, anger, disapproval and totally screwing up yourself and another person by the wrong thinking, the wrong desires, the wrong heart.

So I know all the things, no matter how she ends up handling it, that my daughter is going to go through (and my son, too, but this story was about a little girl). And honestly, no matter how she handles it, it's a world of bliss and agony.

I will be there for her every step of the way, and, without trying to push the agenda as hard as some might, I'll give her every piece of information -- right and wrong -- that I know. I want to help, and be a support -- if I can, and if at that stage she's as open to her parents as Jenny was. But watching her go through it is like a gateway to having your heart crushed.

This one really got to me. I did not expect that at all, given the comments earlier about the cinematography (which I felt was fine, and the intro graphics and ending song were great bookmarks, too!) and such. I haven't read the thread. Christian's post encouraged me to just let it all out. Now he can feel better about what he is posting, too.

I'm out of here for now, I'll catch up to the thread tonight or sometime this weekend.

Edited by Persona

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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Note to self for later, the "believability" factor: Share about my own sister, who was 16 and dated a man in his mid-thirties for two years, and how the whole relationship and the breakup itself screwed her up for a number of years.

Edited by Persona

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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Note to self for later, the "believability" factor: Share about my own sister, who was 16 and dated a man in his mid-thirties for two years, and how the whole relationship and the breakup itself screwed her up for a number of years.

Thank you for mentioning this. I can't help wondering whether some posters' have responded out of a lack of imagination for what it's actually like to be a teenage girl, certainly in the 60s, and even today, especially one who feels (for any number of reasons) discontented and out of place among her peers. I also think the timeframe does explain something of Jenny's parents' naivete.

This story about an alternate ending that was scrapped is also interesting, as well as a more in-depth interview with the author of the original book, Lynn Barber, who acknowledges that her parents were indeed hypocritical co-conspirators in her downfall, very much as they're presented in the movie:

In their suffocating, blinkered way, Dick and Beryl Barber wanted the best for their only child – a good education, top exam results, Oxford the ultimate prize. But one day, a plausible rogue in a Bristol picked up their swotty, super-intelligent, 16-year-old daughter at a bus stop and started to take her out. Simon was a sleazy sidekick of Peter Rachman, the notorious Fifties' landlord. He wore cashmere sweaters and suede shoes. Lynn used him to give her life some excitement and "impress the little squirts of Hampton Grammar". He, no doubt, used her to fuel his fantasies about schoolgirls. Lynn Barber's personal story unfolds as compellingly as anything she has uncovered during a long career of skewering the famous. At the end of his long, careful courtship – both of Lynn and her gullible parents – Simon proposed. The conventional, suburban Barbers had already turned a blind eye to the fact that their daughter was sleeping with an older man in a variety of European cities – "they practically threw me into bed with him" – but marriage?

By this time, Lynn had a pretty good idea of her lover's criminal tendencies and had no intention of accepting. Was she not destined for Oxford? But poor Mrs and Mrs Barber had fallen hook line and sinker and, in a monstrous reversal of all they were supposed to value, urged Lynn to abandon all thought of Oxford and accept an utter scumbag for a husband.

"And you not even in the family way!" said her father, approvingly. Her mother reverted to classic pre-feminist twaddle: "You don't need to go to university if you've got a good husband." No wonder Lynn felt betrayed. "It was as if I'd spent 18 years in a convent and then the Mother Superior had said: 'Of course, you know, God doesn't exist.' I found them odd then; I find them odd now." But she means much, much worse than odd.

Barber also does not seem to view her experience as "a tragedy" (as the Podhoretz review quoted above puts it), in a larger perspective:

For her new-found appreciation of human decency, she has the duplicitous Simon to thank. "But for him, I would probably have fallen for some bounder. I got that out of my system. I wanted someone who was kind, reliable and didn't tell lies."

She also credits the experience with giving her the necessary scepticism to be a good interviewer. "I lost innocence, and perhaps a certain goodwill towards people," she says. "I became suspicious. I came to believe that other people – even when you think you know them well – are ultimately unknowable. This was a good basis for my career as an interviewer, but not, I think, for life."

Some impulse towards redemption must have been behind her choice of David, an olive-skinned, dark-haired artist and manifestly good man, to be her husband. He was "a sluggish wooer", she says, but she made up for his slothfulness by going in hot pursuit because she knew, at first sight, that he was The One. She hoped some of his goodness would rub off on her and believes it did. "He made me a better person."

They were married for 30 years, until his death in 2003.

There is this difference between the growth of some human beings and that of others: in the one case it is a continuous dying, in the other a continuous resurrection. (George MacDonald, The Princess and Curdie)

Isn't narrative structure enough of an ideology for art? (Greg Wright)

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"Someone else might know the point of it one day."

She says to her obviously well-qualified tutor. Well put.

I was really underwhelmed by this one, and am looking forward to Christian's praise of it.

Edited by M. Leary

"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

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Though, I dig the dad at the end. Honest, heartbreaking dad stuff there.

Part of it is having someone as good as Alfred Molina in the role. The guy was one of the highlights of the film for me.

"A director must live with the fact that his work will be called to judgment by someone who has never seen a film of Murnau's." - François Truffaut

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I think you snagged one quote from about 40 edits of that post. This film is entirely conflicting. Wilbur, at least, was simple.

"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

Filmwell | Twitter

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Preserved for posterity. ;) I hope you don't mind.

"A director must live with the fact that his work will be called to judgment by someone who has never seen a film of Murnau's." - François Truffaut

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That is so quantum.

Edited by M. Leary

"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

Filmwell | Twitter

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So am I off the hook? :) Leary loved it! Or at least, loved Molina in it.

I haven't rewatched it yet.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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I think the Molina scene just confirmed my dislike of the scene. Yes it was powerful, I even shed a tear (as a father of a daughter), but that tear was so utterly unearned, and faded so quickly that it just left me feeling manipulated.

Matt

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Manipulation is standard in the viewing experience, right? We either allow something in or we don't. If you shed a tear, there was something there that pulled a string a certain way -- in this case, probably a paternal string. But after, you felt like it was undeserved?

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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: Manipulation is standard in the viewing experience, right?

Well yes and no. It nearly always exists, but the degree to which it is present varies wildly. Or perhaps, to put it another way, manipulation of form always occurs but manipulation of emotions doen't.

: But after, you felt like it was undeserved?

Yup.

It's easy to make someone shed a tear in a film. Show a kid dying. Or a cute bunny. But does that make it a worthy film or a deserved tear? No.

Matt

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