2009-12-18 / Entertainment/Lifestyles


'An Education' - London Lolita
By Robert Snyder

"An Education" is a smartly-realized

60's era "Lolita" story, but is stupid in one respect: It emits a repeated and persistent stench of anti-Semitism.

As to whether it is part of journalist Lynn Barber's memoir on which the film is based is immaterial. Negative references to Jews keep coming up. They are of no importance to the narrative, other than to make Director Lone Scherfig and screenwriter Nick Hornby appear small-minded and prejudiced. It doesn't fit with the film's overall sophistication.

In a 1961 pre-Beatles London suburb, 16-year-old schoolgirl Jenny (Carey Mulligan) is studying hard for acceptance to Oxford. But, she's bursting to bloom. "If I get to university," she says, "I'm going to read what I want, listen to what I want, see lots of art, watch French films and talk to people who know lots and lots."

She doesn't have to wait to get to Oxford to meet one of those people "who knows lots and lots." Struggling to carry her cello home from school in a rainstorm, she encounters a smooth, slippery 30-something older man, David (Peter Sarsgaard), who pulls up in his Burgundy sportscar. This begins a whirlwind romance where he introduces her to art auctions, classical concerts, Champagne, Paris, and sex. While her middle-class, stay-at-home parents (Alfred Moliina and Cara Seymour) are seduced along with her, stodgy Headmistress (Emma Thomp - son) and concerned teacher Miss Stubbs (Olivia Williams) smell a rat.

And rightfully so. David, we later learn, is a gangster. And a married one at that. Jenny discovers this after he has given her an engagement ring and decimated any hope of her entering Oxford.

What's unfortunate is that filmmakers continually inform us that David is a Jew. In fact, at one point, Head mis - tress mentions it. Jenny responds that Jesus was, in fact, a Jew. To which, the incredulous administer snaps, "I suppose he told you that." Maybe, Head - mis tress should brush up on her Bible.

"An Education" is well-acted, comingof age movie, that makes a strong point for students staying the course against con artists. But, is it necessary to make the bad guy Jewish? It's as if Stanley Kubrick made pedophile villain Hum - bert Hum bert (James Mason) a Jew in "Lolita." What would be the point? Except to satisfy a bizarre bias.

A great way to ruin a good movie.

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