An Education

Rated 4.0

What a mixed blessing that Carey Mulligan’s stardom should begin here, with the transitory pleasure of an awards-season dido, veiled in the nostalgic mist of inevitable Audrey Hepburn associations and other more current modes of media infatuation. Certainly Mulligan wears the burden well, carrying An Education without hoarding it, and giving off enough dimpled radiance and girlish poise to indulge our fantasy that this furtively conventional coming-of-age period piece, about a teenager’s eye-opening romance with a much older man (Peter Sarsgaard), be anything but common. As essential as Mulligan is to the movie’s charm, so is her fine supporting cast and her given milieu: Britain, 1961, in tentative transition from shattered war ruin to swinging pop-culture concourse. Save for some haste in the last act, director Lone Scherfig and screenwriter Nick Hornby handle this lightly fictionalized adaptation of journalist Lynn Barber’s memoir with economy and respect.