The Source of AN EDUCATION

Oscar buzz has been growing for  An Education, which opened in NY and LA last Friday and will be rolling out across the country for the next two months.

The lead actress, Carey Mulligan, plays a 16-year-old who falls in love with an older man (reviewers rather disingenuously mention the “ick” factor of the 20-year age difference, before they rush on to praise the movie’s witty dialogue and “fresh” take on a coming-of-age story). Mulligan is being compared to Audrey Hepburn in her own breakout movie, Roman Holiday.

From the cover of the tie-in, you might get the impression that the movie is based on a book by Nick Hornby.

An Education
Nick Hornby
Retail Price: $14.00
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Riverhead Trade – (2009-10-06)
ISBN / EAN: 1594484538 / 9781594484537

This is however, the screenplay, which Hornby based on an eight-page memoir by journalist Lynn Barber, first published in Granta in 2003.

In the UK, where Barber is well-known as a merciless interviewer (she is referred to as “The Demon Barber” ), the essay is the first chapter of her memoir, also titled An Education, published earlier this year. An excerpt of that essay, on the The Observer‘s Web site, paints a much less sunny picture of the affair than we get from the  movie trailer. In the end, Barber says the experience taught her,

…not to trust people; I learned not to believe what they say but to watch what they do; I learned to suspect that anyone and everyone is capable of “living a lie”. I came to believe that other people – even when you think you know them well – are ultimately unknowable. Learning all this was a good basis for my subsequent career as an interviewer, but not, I think, for life. It made me too wary, too cautious, too ungiving. I was damaged by my education.

For more on the movie, including a higher resolution version of the trailer, go to the movie’s web site.

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