An Education

An Education

UK release poster
Directed by Lone Scherfig
Produced by
Screenplay by Nick Hornby
Based on An Education
by Lynn Barber
Music by Paul Englishby
Cinematography John de Borman
Edited by Barney Pilling
Distributed by Sony Pictures Classics
Release dates
  • 18 January 2009 (2009-01-18) (Sundance)
  • 30 October 2009 (2009-10-30) (United Kingdom)
  • 5 February 2010 (2010-02-05) (United States)
Running time
95 minutes
  • United Kingdom
  • United States[1]
Language English
Budget $7.5 million[2]
Box office $26,096,852[3]

An Education is a 2009 coming-of-age drama film, based on a memoir of the same name by British journalist Lynn Barber. The film was directed by Lone Scherfig from a screenplay by Nick Hornby, and stars Carey Mulligan as Jenny, a bright schoolgirl, and Peter Sarsgaard as David, the charming con man who seduces her. The film was nominated for three Academy Awards in 2010: Best Picture[4] and Writing (Adapted Screenplay) for Nick Hornby, and Best Actress for Carey Mulligan.[5]

An Education premiered at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival.[6] It screened on 10 September 2009 at the Toronto International Film Festival[7] and was featured at the Telluride by the Sea Film Festival in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, US, on 19 September 2009.[8] The film was shown on 9 October 2009, at the Mill Valley Film Festival. It was released in the US on 16 October 2009 and in the UK on 30 October 2009.


In 1961 London, Jenny Mellor is a 16-year-old schoolgirl preparing for Oxford University when she meets a charming older man driving a Bristol 405, David Goldman, who pursues her romantically. He takes her to concerts, clubs and fine restaurants, easily charming and manipulating her parents into approving of the relationship. Later, Jenny discovers that David is a con man who makes money through a variety of shady practices. She is initially shocked but silences her misgivings in the face of David's charm. Jenny's parents invite Graham, a boy Jenny knows from Youth Orchestra, to Jenny's birthday party but David arrives and Graham goes home. A few days later, David takes Jenny to Paris as a birthday gift, where she loses her virginity to him. When David proposes marriage, Jenny accepts and leaves school. However, she later discovers David is already married. When she reveals her discovery to David, he drops out of sight. Jenny despairs, feeling she has thrown her life away but, with the help of her favourite teacher, resumes her studies and is accepted at Oxford the following year.




Mulligan during a Q&A following the screening of An Education at the Ryerson Theatre on 25 September 2009.

Nick Hornby created the screenplay based on an autobiographical essay by the British journalist Lynn Barber about her schoolgirl affair with conman Simon Prewalski, referred to by her as Simon Goldman, which was published in the literary magazine Granta (82: Life’s Like That, Summer 2003).[11][12] Hornby was the boyfriend of Amanda Posey, the film's producer, whom he later married.[13]

Both the memoir and the film also allude briefly to Peter Rachman, the notorious post-World War II London property speculator, who Goldman is working for. Barber's full memoir, An Education, was not published in book form until June 2009, when filming had already been completed. Hornby said that what appealed to him in the memoir was that "She's a suburban girl who's frightened that she's going to get cut out of everything good that happens in the city. That, to me, is a big story in popular culture. It's the story of pretty much every rock 'n' roll band."[14] Although the screenplay involved Hornby writing about a teenage girl, he did not feel it was more challenging than writing any other character: "I think the moment you're writing about somebody who's not exactly you, then the challenge is all equal. I was glad that everyone around me on this movie was a woman so that they could watch me carefully. But I don't remember anyone saying to me, 'That isn't how women think.'"[14]

Recreating 1961 Britain

Although Jenny's family home and her school are supposed to be in the suburb of Twickenham, Middlesex (incorrectly referred to as 'Twickenham, London' - Twickenham did not become part of Greater London until 1965), the residential scenes featured in the film were shot on Carbery Avenue[15][16] in the Gunnersbury area of Ealing, west London as well as Mattock Lane in West Ealing and The Japanese School in Acton, which used to be the site of the girls' school called Haberdashers' Aske's School for Girls.[17]


Carey Mulligan and Peter Sarsgaard at the New York premiere in October 2009

Critical response

It has a 94% approval rating and a 7.9 average rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 179 critics' reviews. The site's consensus reads: "Though the latter part of the film may not appeal to all, An Education is a charming coming-of-age tale powered by the strength of former newcomer Carey Mulligan's standout performance."[18] The film has a Metacritic score of 85/100 based on 34 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim".[19]

Box office

An Education grossed £1,633,504 in the UK.[20] and $US26,096,852 worldwide.[21]


An Education won the Audience Choice award and the Cinematography award at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival.[9] Mulligan won a Hollywood Film Festival award for Best Hollywood Breakthrough Performance for a Female.[22] It was selected as Sight & Sound's film of the month.

The film received three nominations at the 82nd Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Actress for Carey Mulligan and Best Adapted Screenplay, but did not win in any category.[23] The 63rd British Academy Film Awards saw the film come away with one award (for Best Actress) from nine nominations. The film received six British Independent Film Awards nominations and five Satellite Awards nominations.[24][25]

Home media

An Education was released on DVD and Blu-ray on 30 March 2010.[26]


  1. "An Education". British Film Institute. Retrieved May 26, 2014.
  2. "An Education (2009)". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on 5 February 2010. Retrieved 2010-02-22.
  3. Subers, Ray. "An Education Box Office". Box Office Mojo. Box Office Mojo.
  4. "Nominees & Winners for the 82nd Academy Awards". Retrieved 2011-03-31.
  5. "Colin Firth, Helen Mirren and Carey Mulligan lead British hopes at this year's Oscars". Retrieved 2011-03-31.
  6. "Sundance unveils competition lineup". Variety. Archived from the original on 2008-12-05. Retrieved 2016-02-08.
  7. Lambert, Christine (2009). "An Education premiere at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival". Retrieved 2009-12-11.
  8. "Telluride by the Sea". Retrieved 2011-03-31.
  9. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Archie Thomas (February 20, 2008). "Bloom, Molina, Hawkins join 'Education'". Variety. Retrieved May 23, 2008.
  10. "Orlando Bloom Drops Out of Education". 2008-03-17. Archived from the original on 22 May 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-23.
  11. "An edited extract from the introduction to An Education: The Screenplay by Nick Hornby (Penguin). The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2011-03-31.
  12. "An Education" by Lynn Barber, Granta 82: Life's Like That. Published Summer 2003. Pages 203-223.
  13. Barber, Lynn. "An Education." Granta. 107 Essays & Memoir. 12 August 2009. Retrieved on 4 July 2016.
  14. 1 2 Christy Grosz "Nick Hornby takes pen to screen with 'An Education'". Los Angeles Times. September 13, 2009. Retrieved September 14, 2009.
  15. Rose, Steve (2 June 2011). "10 of the best films set in London". Retrieved 4 April 2014.
  16. Nicholls, David (18 February 2010). "Your property as a film location: Home, set, home". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 4 April 2014.
  17. Barber, Lynn (2009-06-07). "Educating Lynn: take one". London: The Observer (June 8, 2008). Retrieved November 23, 2009.
  18. "An Education Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved February 8, 2016.
  19. "Metacritic An Education Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive Inc.
  21. Subers, Ray. "An Education Box Office". Box Office Mojo.
  22. Hollywood Film Festival (October 5, 2009). "Hollywood Film Festival to Honor Carey Mulligan and Jeremy Renner". MovieWeb. Retrieved September 23, 2009.
  23. "Carey Mulligan and Colin Firth lead British Oscars charge". Retrieved 2011-03-31.
  24. "BIFA 2009 Nominations". BIFA. 2009-12-03. Retrieved 2009-12-03.
  25. "Satellite 2009 Nominations". The LA Times. 2009-12-04. Archived from the original on 4 December 2009. Retrieved 2009-12-03.
  26. London Academy of Film Media and TV. "English Actress Carey Mulligan". Retrieved 2011-03-31.

External links

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