Nick Hornby Works Magic With Education

On a Sunday afternoon attending a 2:30 p.m. screening at the Regal Cinemas Union Square Stadium at 13th Street and Broadway, I found a near packed house that was sold out when the lights went down. The reviews of the film were excellent, but for a sold-out performance on a Sunday afternoon, the public drums voicing the movie's praises had to be working overtime. They were right to do so. This is a lovely, delicious film with fine acting and a unique plot.

Sixteen-year-old Jenny (Carey Mulligan), who lives in a London suburb, attends a private school and expects to go to Oxford the following year. She meets David (Peter Sarsgaard) in a torrential downpour who offers her and her viola a ride home. Thus begins a romance between a young girl and an older man in his 30s who, no matter how sweet and dazzling in personality, appears to be a grifter.

Jenny's middle-class parents, Jack (Alfred Molina) and Marjorie (Cara Seymour) play their roles beautifully. They are devoted to her and very protective, particularly her father. Two friends of David, one a fellow grifter, Danny (Dominic Cooper), and his wife, Helen (Rosamund Pike), add a sophistication to every scene in which they appear. Danny looks his role of grifter with a touch of degeneracy, but the latter aspect only in appearance, not in any action. The film ends in a surprising way, totally unexpected after Jenny accepts David's marriage proposal, giving up her expected career which requires her attendance at Oxford.

The movie has a PG-13 rating, signaling a picture without sex or violence, which undoubtedly will keep some people away. I would say this is a unique film well worth your attendance, notwithstanding the several anti-Semitic reflections. An extra bonus is the presence of Emma Thompson playing the Headmistress at Jenny's school.