Heroes of the Zeroes is Nick Rogers’ daily, alphabetical look back at the 365 best films of 2000 to 2009.
As acutely intelligent about young love’s wiles as High Fidelity was about old love, Lone Scherfig’s An Education (scripted by Fidelity’s novelist Nick Hornby) took an endearing look at the folly of pursuing escapism without considering the reality.
Adapted from Lynn Barber’s memoir about 1961 England, 2009’s Education depicted how pie-in-the-sky predictions for the future sock the most sensible among us. It also represented the major arrival of Carey Mulligan, an actress with enough poise, professionalism and presence to immediately place her among the best of her peers.
She’s Jenny, an intelligent teenage girl diverted from a primrose path of prestigious college education by David (Peter Sarsgaard) — a 30-something gentleman as seductive to Jenny’s parents (Alfred Molina and Cara Seymour) as to her.
David and Jenny’s courtship is fraught with tension not of a tawdry, predatory nature, but from the sacrifice of what life with him would mean for her. Jenny’s success will depend on whether she — and her parents — can seize upon their strengths rather than slacken for stability or a safe bet.
Mulligan lends unwavering structure and smarts to the Zeroes’ most realistic depiction of budding teen-girl sexuality. In his career’s trickiest role, Sarsgaard connects with strange empathy concerning at what point pursuing youthfulness should cease.
And in Molina’s quietly devastating, tough and poignant bedroom-hallway confession to, and consolation of, Jenny, a family collectively comes to appreciate the renewed strength of scarred-over hearts and the beautiful blossoming of a woman.