Producers, Best picture, An Education

An Education

The story of a schoolgirl’s coming-of-age in a dour post-war Britain, An Education heralded the arrival of a new star in Carey Mulligan. Just 22 when she shot the film, Mulligan’s utterly convincing portrayal of Jenny as she falls for shady older man David established her as an early frontrunner in the best actress race.

Adapted by Nick Hornby from an article by Lynn Barber the film has scored three Oscar nominations: for Mulligan in the leading actress category, for Hornby in adapted screenplay and in the best picture category for producers Finola Dwyer and Amanda Posey. The film also scored eight Bafta nominations, with Mulligan also nominated in the Orange Rising Star category.

“Right from when Nick first gave it to us we both thought it was a very universal story,” says Finola Dwyer. “We didn’t think it was going to be the easiest thing in the world to get off the ground — which it wasn’t, because it’s not high-concept, it’s not genre, there wasn’t a role for a star.”

Posey continues: “I think what’s interesting about it is there are so many different ways into the story. Sometimes people approach it thinking about their lives as parents, sometimes people approach it as a young woman whose eyes are being opened sexually. There are a lot of different ways in.”

The film depicts a Britain on the cusp of a seismic cultural shift, at a point between post-war austerity and the looming revolutions of the swinging sixties. “That was the attraction for Nick in particular,” says Posey, who is married to Hornby. “He was interested for himself and felt other people would be interested too in that moment.”

Danish director Lone Scherfig (Italian For Beginners) gets fantastic performances from Mulligan, Peter Sarsgaard as David, and the supporting cast. “One of the things about Italian For Beginners,” says Posey, “was that what we knew we absolutely needed for this was somebody who could deal with the very subtle humour.”

Leon Forde