Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Great Alphas and Betas on film - An Education

I finally got around to seeing An Education, starring Peter Sarsgaard and Carey Mulligan.

I enjoyed the movie. Spoilers ahead. Check out IMDB or Netflix for a description of this film.

The most fascinating thing to me about this film was one of the supporting characters, Graham. Graham is a classmate of Jenny's and has a huge crush on her. He's a sweet kid, and smart (Jenny defends him to her father saying that he might be a great writer someday) and they're in the student symphony together. Nonetheless, Jenny is not attracted to him. At all.

Although Graham and Jenny are chronological peers, 16 year olds (she a 16 year old played by a 22 year old actress), they aren't peers in the SMP. Jenny grows to dread his attentions. The most darkly hilarious moment of the film is when she indifferently bids him farewell at her birthday celebration. She doesn't even look up at the guy!

The poor bastard never knew what hit him. He was never in contention, and what's more, he never knew he wasn't in contention.

The end of the film seems to me a bit ambiguous. I don't think it's the happy ending most people think it is. Yes, she makes it to Oxford, and yes, she says she's able to pass as an innocent, but she is clearly dissatisfied with the men at Oxford, whom she calls boys. They're not boys. They're men. They might not be as mature as she would like, they might not be as suave or confident or charming, they may not have finished growing or filling out, and they might not have everything figured out, but they are men. And she remains unsatisfied and unattracted to them.

The ending made me wonder what happened to her. Did she find love? Was it with a peer or an older man? If Graham and Jenny remained single and crossed paths again 10 or 15 years down the line, I doubt he would still be enchanted with her. That would be an education too.


  1. dunno if I have commented here before, so let's say my first post here.
    I saw this movie few months ago,and the dynamics were crystal clear after roissy's teachings.
    When the boy went up to meet her and her friend was the most grating scene in the film for me. And of course the ending topped it off all too well.

  2. Welcome, Namae. I forgot to write about that scene. It was fascinating the effect that Jenny had on her friends. They were clearly contemptuous of Graham in that scene.