Release date: October 30, 2009
Running time: 1 hour 35 minutes
Jenny Mellor a studious 16-year old British girl with dreams of going to Oxford, is casually but persuasively seduced by David Goldman, an older gentleman who shows her the world of fine restaurants, fine art and travel. He manages to even persuade her stuffy father to let her go off on weekends to Oxford and Paris.
Goldman is played with an effortless charm by American actor Peter Sarsgaard, who so casually persuades Jenny's parents to allow her to go out with him that one almost doesn't notice that this is a man that is used to getting what he wants regardless of the circumstances.
The first sign we get that things are not what they seem is on their first date, when it is revealed that David's friend's date is not the cultured woman of the world she appears to be. She certainly is dressed impeccably, but is in all reality a woman of very limited intellect, conspicuously yawning during the orchestras' performance and not understanding a word of French.
The next trip-up in this whirlwind romance is when they go to a house to steal a very expensive framed map from an old woman's house. Jenny becomes immediately distressed, but the charming David talks her back into the fold. The story carries on with the changes this relationship has on her life, with her parents and especially at school, where she is warned by some very stuffy teachers and administrators that she is throwing her life away.
Jenny, played by Carey Mulligan, is an absolutely wonderful actress. She makes the transformation from a schoolgirl dreaming of breaking free from her restrictive environment to a young woman of the world right before our very eyes almost effortlessly. Part of the charm of this film are the actors, and by that I mean their complexions. Sarsgaard and Mulligan are so fresh-faced and full of vitality that I thought I was watching a Noxema commercial (do they still sell that crap? I want my money back!!!). But they are also very talented, and watching them do their thing is a joy to behold.
Jenny comes to the typical working-class conclusion that there are no short-cuts in life, and that whatever dreams you may have you have to work for them and not sit around waiting for someone to come along and make them come true for you. We are privy here to some excellent acting by everyone in the cast; passionate yet understated performances in the way only the Brits can pull it off. It is quite a film, and one I recommend highly.