Most anytime that I see the tagline "inspired coming-of-age story" attached to a film I tend to roll my eyes and doubt the claim, but that was not the case with this wonderful film. The combination of a script written by the amazing Nick Hornby (About a Boy, High Fidelity) and a great turn by the young ingénue Carey Mulligan took this film right over the top in 2009. It was the introduction of Carey Mulligan as an actor to look out for. She was even nominated for a Best Actress Oscar for her performance (it was also nominated for Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay). Her first really big starring role, Mulligan's performance was funny, touching, intelligent, and wonderful. She injected plenty of wisdom and depth into a character that it would have been easy to mess up. This 25-year-old has a bright future.
Bright young high school girl Jenny (Carey Mulligan – Public Enemies, When Did You Last See Your Father?) dreams of growing up and quickly. She is dying to be an adult. Her dreams come true when she meets a sophisticated older man named David (Peter Sarsgaard – Flight Plan, Garden State). David introduces Jenny to a very different world of parties, jazz clubs and traveling. Everything seems so glamourous to her. She falls head over heels for the life and the man.
To describe the film you could pull out words like warm and witty, but I have to admit I did not know how to deal with the fact that the relationship between Jenny and David is totally inappropriate. She is still in high school and he is an adult. I did not know whether to think of it as a love story or pedophilia?
Irregardless of this moral conundrum the film will touch you at a deeper level. How Jenny endures her "mistake" gets right back up and starts living her life again is great. The message that an education gives you choices in life runs throughout. It is an important one, especially for young women.
The film has that wonderful observational quality about it without judgment or the like and that allows you to get lost in the story and comfy with the characters. When they are happy so are you and when they hurt you feel their pain.
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