Universal acclaim - based on 34 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 32 out of 34
  2. Negative: 0 out of 34
  1. 100
    This happens in 1961, when 16-year-old girls were a great deal less knowing than they are now. Yet the movie isn't shabby or painful, but romantic and wonderfully entertaining.
  2. Hornby is a fine craftsman and his dialogue sparkles, though occasionally the scenes are too calculated.
  3. The combination of a literate script, an adroit cast and an economical style is simple addition that achieves an alchemical feat: the best film of the year.
  4. 100
    It is, in its quiet, precise, classical way, nearly perfect.
  5. 100
    An Education captures the very limited possibilities for female liberation in early-'60s London -- with massive social change on the distant horizon, but not here yet -- in exquisite detail.
  6. 100
    This is a performance, and a film, to cherish for this year and always.
  7. This tale of an English schoolgirl's hard-won wisdom is thrilling --for the radiance of Carey Mulligan's Jenny, who's wonderfully smart and perilously tender; for the grace of Lone Scherfig's direction, and the brilliance of Nick Hornby's screenplay.
  8. Afterward, you'll want to listen to the Beatles sing ''She's Leaving Home.'' It might be a girl like Jenny the lads had in mind.
  9. 91
    An Education shares with Hornby’s best work trenchant insight into the way smart, hyper-verbal young people let the music, films, books, and art they love define themselves as they figure out who they are and what they want to be.
  10. Bracingly perceptive about the human comedy.
  11. Topped by a fine cast, a first-rate script by Nick Hornby and tight direction by Lone Scherfig, the film is a smart, moving but not inaccessible entry in the coming-of-age canon.
  12. Reviewed by: Elias Savada
    Technical elements are among the best this year. Photography, editing, music, production design, and costumes all add seamless period flavor to the puritanical stew that was London almost a half-century ago.
  13. A distinctive story with universal appeal.
  14. 88
    An Education is remarkable for the traps it doesn't fall into. Jenny, for all her naive impulses, isn't a victim.
  15. The film version of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” came out in the year in which An Education is set, and beyond the hairstyles, there’s something of the willful, gleeful Golightly reinvention expert about Jenny.
  16. 88
    The film wouldn't work at all, though, if Sarsgaard didn't strike the perfect balance between snaky predator and love-struck fool.
  17. 88
    Despite the lingering aroma of Victorian rot shrouding 1961, An Education is excitingly young.
  18. Disarming and unexpectedly poignant, An Education contrasts the knowledge learned in school with that learned from life.
  19. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Through stellar performances, clever writing and exquisite cinematography, the story is fresh and thoroughly captivating.
  20. 88
    In the end, this is more a character study of Jenny than a tale of tortured love, and a reminder that any education worth having comes with its share of trauma.
  21. It's a career-making performance that relies as much on charm as on acting ability -- and Mulligan has both.
  22. Watch Mulligan's face as she goes from weary to awakened, and see it all come together.
  23. Reviewed by: Scott Foundas
    Something of a deceptively packaged Oscar-season bonbon--a seemingly benign, classily directed year-I-became-a-woman nostalgia trip that conceals a surprisingly tart, morally ambiguous center.
  24. 80
    If in hindsight An Education might make you a little queasy, it is hard to resist, like David himself.
  25. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    As she's being put through her Oxford-prep paces, Jenny complains about "ticking off boxes," and at times, this film seems to be doing just that: coming-of-age drama, check. Youthful illusions shattered, check. But as with first love, so with the movies: The right girl makes it all worthwhile.
  26. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Carey Mulligan shines in a captivating performance.
  27. Hornby's humane and humorous screenplay is true to the film's title: In short order, young Jenny finds out important truths about identity, glamour and how adults really think and live.
  28. Reviewed by: Staff (Not credited)
    A beguiling little film that, with deceptive restraint and forthrightness, opens up worlds of roiling, contradictory emotions.
  29. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Best of all, An Education isn’t alarmist. It knows other people can’t seduce us if we don’t seduce ourselves first and that Jenny is level-headed enough to handle it and learn.
  30. For all its original touches, though, An Education follows a conventional trajectory.
  31. 70
    An Education is perceptive and entertaining, but it doesn’t have the jolting vitality of, say, “Notes on a Scandal,” which dramatized an even more unconventional liaison--older woman, fifteen-year-old boy.
  32. Reviewed by: Cliff Doerksen
    This British drama is handsomely textured and beautifully acted, though the script often feels giddily out of touch with the essential creepiness of the scenario.
  33. Reviewed by: Dan Jolin
    A decent but unremarkable film with a big, unforgettable central performance. Carey Mulligan passes with First-Class Honours.
  34. Lone Scherfig directs it all as if it were a breezy lark, so a third-act tonal shift makes for an incongruous, excessively moralistic fit with everything that’s preceded. Most insulting, though, is the way in which the climactic passages miraculously tidy up every frayed edge of Jenny’s life.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 190 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 42 out of 51
  2. Negative: 5 out of 51
  1. Oct 6, 2011
    Director Lon Scherfig orchestrates his french maturity movie "An Education" with consistency, maintaining the tone of the movie pretty classy. Other than that, Peter Sarsgaard also does a superb performance throughout the movie. It's a film that deeply troubled teens will watch and understand. Full Review »
  2. JoelM.
    Mar 31, 2010
    Overrated creepy, unbelievable film. Parents pimping their daughter portrayed as comedic. Film is as manipulative and puerile as the central male character. Typical of the director's approach: if we don't like the schoolmaster's point of view, make her an anti-semitic monster. Heroine's wisdom at the end amounts to "been there, done that" as an epiphany. Full Review »
  3. Nov 4, 2011
    An Education is a nice coming-of-age tale with an important message that may resonant with a lot of young people. And it sports an impressive cast and a star-making performance from Carey Mulligan. 4/4 stars. Full Review »