Mr. Movie

'An Education' not tutorial, just one of 2009's best

Carey Mulligan is a teenage girl in 1960s pre-Fab Four London.

-- Local show times, theaters, trailer.

She is swept off her feet by a man twice her age. The relationship opens her eyes to worlds of possibilities never imagined.

Character actor Peter Sarsgaard (The Skeleton Key) plays the man. Alfred Molina is wonderful as her doting but controlling father, Emma Thompson and Olivia Williams have small but important parts.

Sarsgaard’s David is a slime ball. She knows it, but she doesn’t care. He bamboozles her father and anyone unlucky enough to cross his path. None of this is over-the-top. Everything about An Education is civilized and understated.

Mulligan, the movie and screenwriter Nick Hornby (About a Boy) got deserved Oscar nominations. Hornby should write more. This is a subtle, non-judgmental picture of 1960s teenage life and the timeless influences — good and bad — that still shape the lives of girls as they approach adulthood today.

Movie perfection is rare. Everything about An Education is perfect. The sets, the characters, the writing, the acting and directing.

Mr. Movie rating: 5 stars

Rated PG-13 for mature themes. It opens Friday, Feb. 5 at Regal’s Columbia Mall 8.

5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen

4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.

3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.

2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.

0 stars: Speaks for itself.