I’m a bit embarrassed to say I stayed away from this movie because I assumed it was part of Hollywood’s ongoing attempt to normalize child sexuality and win sympathy for child molesters. I have friends who believe this is actually some kind of conspiracy. I don’t – but I do believe it’s a real phenomenon, the natural outgrowth of a bad philosophy that ultimately makes vice virtue and vice versa so to speak, the same philosophy that makes it difficult for so many in Hollywood to see why Roman Polanski should face a judge – and not just in the next life either.
Happily, however, An Education is not part of this trend at all. It’s a charming little film based on a true story, a memoir by Brit journalist Lynn Barber adapted for the screen by the talented Nick Hornby. It tells the somewhat romanticized tale of a 16-year-old schoolgirl’s seduction by a smooth-talking charmer twice her age. It’s small, as I say, but moving, entertaining and real. It’s also honestly observed and therefore almost necessarily moral and conservative… though I suspect everyone involved in making the film would be shocked to hear it. Plus, amazingly for a modern film or novel, it deals fairly and directly with a girl’s awakening sexuality without a single moment of prurience. Great acting, too, especially by Peter Saarsgard, who should be in every movie everywhere.
I’ll tell you my favorite line – so stop reading here if you don’t want to hear it. This is recreated from memory:
The uptight Headmistress, to the heroine Jenny, on hearing Jenny’s lover is Jewish: “Don’t you realize the Jews killed our Lord?”
Jenny: “Don’t you realize our Lord was a Jew?”
Headmistress: “Is that the sort of propaganda he’s been filling your head with?”
Good stuff. Worth seeing.