In the early 1960’s, 16-year-old Jenny Mellor (Carey Mulligan) lives with her parents in the London suburb of Twickenham. On her father’s wishes, everything that Jenny does is in the sole pursuit of being accepted into Oxford, as he wants her to have a better life than he. Jenny is bright, pretty, hard working and naturally gifted. Her father is tough on her, demanding she study Latin, a dying language, and dislikes Graham, a boy Jenny’s dating who is nice but socially awkward. Jenny’s life changes after she meets David Goldman, played by Peter Sarsgaard, a man over twice her age.
6 out of 10
The best character in this film is the time frame it’s set in — the early 1960’s. We see Jenny sitting across from her parents. It’s not said, but Jenny’s generation will change the world. On the other side sits her mother, who dotes on her father’s whims and supports his shortsightedness. The style of clothes, the music and cars are charming elements of the film that shine.
There are also wonderful themes of sexuality and power. Jenny sees the women of previous generations as week — housewives and school teachers who are sexually repressed and lack culture. She looks down at the women who run her all-girls Catholic school. Jenny thinks that rebelling against them will make her worldly and sophisticated. When she meets David, a man of means who takes her to concerts, clubs and other countries, she believes she’s met her love, and so does her family.
Along the way, Jenny does get an education in love, heart ache, hard work and what it means to lose your innocence.
The only problem I find with the film is it ends too easily. Jenny makes horrible mistakes along the entire film and we sympathize with her and care about her. She fumbles with horrible decisions but in the end, we get an easy montage that wraps the film up all-too effortlessly. This was almost a great movie.