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Review: An Education

brent johnson lobbies for Alfred Molina to score an Oscar nod for An Education

As awards season approaches, the talk about An Education will likely be about Carey Mulligan. The 25-year-old newcomer plays a sharp-minded high-schooler in early 1960s Britain who gets a harsh lesson in love and life from an older man. And she’s wonderful — all pent-up anger and giddy ambition delivered in a seemingly effortless, natural performance. Look for her name on the Best Actress list.

And don’t be surprised if this film — written with subtle wit and poignancy by famed British novelist Nick Hornby, author of High Fidelity and About A Boy — snags a Best Picture nod. Especially since 10 films make the list this year.

But let me use this space to push for Alfred Molina for Best Supporting Actor. The gifted-yet-never-nominated character vet deserves a nom — if only for a single, devastating scene.

Throughout the film, he’s an overprotective father who knows he should want the best for his daughter but is too naive to know how to encourage her. This proves comical for the first hour or so.

But then, when his smart, promising young girl gets crushed by the revelation of a sad secret, he stands outside her locked door, lets down his fatherly guard and speaks from his heart. Molina plays it with hints of melancholy, regret and mustered-up courage — showing that often our parents are the best vessel for understanding and comfort. It’s a study in tenderness and a study in nuanced acting.

And it’s a movie worth seeing. For the performances. For the script. And also for a glimpse at Britain when it was buttoned up and slightly paranoid — before the mid-1960s let loose in the Isles with the swinging fun shown in Austin Powers and the smashing joy shown in Pirate Radio, another great film out now.



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