I liked "An Education". It's a well made film with a nice story. It is well constructed. It has a charismatic leading actress that, come out of nowhere, carries nearly the whole weight of the film on her shoulders. It has two great performances by Peter Sarsgaard and Alfred Molina, the latter excellent and underused as the leading lady's father. As a plus it has a cameo from Emma Thompson and Rosamund Pike gets the chance of a light role that sadly doesn't amount to much, although it isn't her fault - but maybe I am still in awe of her after watching her as Hedda Gabler recently.
It's a romantic fantasy in a fairy tale world of girl's schools, chocolate box London and Parisian dreams. But the idea of a father allowing his 16-old daughter to marry a 30 something and to abandon school and the Oxford dreams that he harbours with so much acquiescence bothers me and verges on implausibility. I can not believe that for a minute in 1960s middle class, suburban London. It also proves that films are made in the editing room, not on the set: please watch the deleted scenes on the DVD. Two whole sequences are presented in a fuller, alternative form. Whoever decided to go with the final version deserves a medal. It slightly bothers me that Nick Hornby got praised simply because he's a famous writer. If the two re-edited sequences are representative of his script then he clearly doesn't understand drama or cinema. Of course, this is a bit unfair, as I am using something that did not make to the final cut, but my point is it could have had. True, Carey Mulligan deserves all the praise she got, but overall I felt so underwhelmed by the whole thing.
So, then to my point: how can this truly pass for one of the best films of the year?! It's a lovely soufflé, a delightful bonbon, an indulgent ice-cream cup (ok, you get the idea) but nothing more. You'll enjoy it while it lasts but it will vanish out of your mind at best a few days after watching it, if not earlier. I expect the contenders to best films of the year to move me, to make me laugh, to make me cry, to make me think, to make me hate or fall in love with the characters (as appropriate) and ultimately with the films themselves - or do I really have too high expectations?