Ah, it is a strange moment in time. An Education is a film that explores, for once, the idea of why it is young girls just might find older, more sophisticated men alluring. At the same time, though, here’s David Letterman in the news admitting that he has been kind of living a double life for the last twenty years. I didn’t think much about it until I watched this clip again from An Education. The film illuminates much about the annoying duality of a smart, young girl who is bored with her life and who is moved by the attention of someone who wears suits, smokes cigarettes, drives cool cars, and knows about things.
The great thing about An Education, though, is that it isn’t a cautionary tale as it might have been – the reason is that the protagonist is someone who learned so much from the experience. When we get older we look back on those older people we so admired and we wonder what in the hell we were thinking. But you see, that is how this happens — the kind of awestruck admiration a young person feels for someone older can’t be replicated in one’s contemporaries. This is, I suspect, what drove Letterman to keep dipping into the honey jar for the young ones. It is certainly what drives the Peter Sarsgaard character in this film. It is probably hard to resist. I don’t think it is about sex so much as it is about feeling the spirit of youth, the shine of unflinching admiration.
The Los Angeles Times featured this exclusive clip:
An Education finally opens this week. Sure, there has been a lot of hype (no, really?) but the film is complex enough to withstand it. There is no denying the shimmering creature at the heart of it.
And while we’re on the subject, David Edelstein chimes in with a negative review, which opens, “If there‚Äôs one thing that can pack an art-house cinema, it‚Äôs the prospect of watching a pretty English teenager deflowered by a predatory older man, the whole dramatic striptease framed as an ‚Äúeducational experience.” — I guess I’d just say that it’s probably easier to take the sanctimonious route than it is to try to imagine what it is like to walk that line.