"Education" earns good grades as Oscar race begins

Mon Oct 26, 2009 6:48pm EDT
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By Martin A. Grove

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - A mere three months before Oscar nominations are unveiled, the British coming-of-age drama "An Education" is one of the first of this year's crop of contenders to garner serious buzz.

It's got that combination Academy members love: critical acclaim (90% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes) and promising box office business.

The Sony Pictures Classics release has earned almost $1 million after three weekends in limited release, and adds theaters in the coming weeks.

Lone Scherfig, a Danish native whose credits include "Italian for Beginners" and the suicide-themed drama "Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself," directed "An Education" from British novelist Nick Hornby's ("About a Boy") adaptation of a magazine memoir by journalist Lynn Barber.

Newcomer Carey Mulligan, 24, stars as a studious 16-year-old London schoolgirl who falls for the worldly charms of an older man, played by Peter Sarsgaard. Semi-spoiler alert: He's not quite who we think he is.

When Scherfig read Hornby's third-draft screenplay three years ago, she admitted to being "completely seduced" by Sarsgaard's character, David.

"There is an element in this film where you feel hurt in a way when you've seen it," Scherfig said.

It really has to do with the moviegoer being seduced -- just as Mulligan's Jenny is.   Continued...