An Education (2009) Blind Spot Review 

An Education (2009)

Directed by Lone Scherfig

Screenplay by Nick Hornby & Based on An Education by Lynn Barber

Starring: Carey Mulligan, Peter Sarsgaard, Alfred Molina, Rosamund Pike, Dominic Cooper, Olivia Williams, Emma Thompson

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A coming-of-age story about a teenage girl in 1960s suburban London, and how her life changes with the arrival of a playboy nearly twice her age.

My Opinion:

This is my first Blind Spot review of 2016 (you can see all 12 of my Blind Spot choices HERE). I’m even managing to do this in January! Maybe I can aim to do these on the last Monday of every month. Maybe. I did start with the “easiest” watch, though (I’ll have to work up the nerve for things like Battle Royale). This movie was pretty good. Nothing too memorable but a solid film all around with Carey Mulligan in a star-making role.

There were two main reasons I’ve been meaning to watch this movie: Nick Hornby & Carey Mulligan. I like Nick Hornby’s books (High Fidelity being the best) so I was interested in this as he adapted the screenplay, which earned him an Oscar nomination. I also should really try to watch Brooklyn now since he’s again nominated for the adapted screenplay Oscar for that as well. Anyway, An Education is a well-written film (I suppose credit also goes to the novel’s author, Lynn Barber) with a good story and a strong young central character played convincingly by Carey Mulligan (which also earned her a best actress Oscar nomination). Oh, and the film itself was also nominated for Best Picture that year so it was up for three big awards and I’d say it deserved each of those nominations.

I first noticed Carey Mulligan in the absolutely fantastic Doctor Who episode Blink, in which she carried the whole show. I think this was back when they decided they’d have one episode each season which wouldn’t really feature The Doctor? They should do that again since Blink was a million times better than Doctor Who now – I don’t even watch it anymore. 😦


This photo is from Doctor Who, not An Education. Although it would’ve been cool to have some Weeping Angels in this movie…

Anyway! I’m assuming that role may be what got her noticed as An Education wasn’t long after that? I have to say I’ve been disappointed with some of her roles since (especially in The Great Gatsby) but I don’t know if some of that has been a fault with those scripts. She’s perfect in An Education, though, and utterly believable as a 16/17-year-old girl in 1960’s London. It looks like she was about 23 when she filmed it but I had to look into it as I did wonder if she was actually only a teenager at the time – it did seem like she could be (she doesn’t look like the thirtysomething cast of Grease!).

This isn’t a big flashy film and it’s not one that everyone would necessarily go for but it’s a good “Sunday afternoon” watch. Which sounds kind of insulting but I don’t mean that in a bad way. I’m also doing my best to not call this film “nice” as that word annoys the hell out of my husband. But, well, that’s how I feel about this one! So I’ve looked up “nice” at thesaurus.com:

An Education is “admirable, amiable, approved, attractive, becoming, charming, commendable, considerate, copacetic, cordial, courteous, decorous, delightful, ducky, fair, favorable, fine and dandy, friendly, genial, gentle, good, gracious, helpful, ingratiating, inviting, kind, kindly, lovely, nifty, obliging, okay, peachy, pleasant, pleasurable, polite, prepossessing, seemly, simpatico, superior, swell, unpresumptuous, welcome, well-mannered, winning, winsome”.

HA! I like “ducky”. This movie is ducky!

1960’s London (and also Paris) is a great time period & setting so I really enjoyed that. And Mulligan was adorable in that dress in the movie’s poster! The story, although slightly less relevant nowadays, is one I’d like to have my daughter watch when she’s the same sort of age as Mulligan’s character. Basically, the story is about Mulligan falling for a charming older man and how she’s willing to give up everything for him (mainly, her education – she’s a smart girl who plans to go to Oxford University).

I guess the only complaint I’d have about this film is that I hated Peter Sarsgaard’s smarmy character. I honestly don’t know if that was the point, though, or if that’s just how he happened to come across? I was thinking “how could she fall for this idiot?” but maybe the whole point is that a 16-year-old girl doesn’t know any better? He actually gave me the creeps. It just kind of sucked as I felt he let the film down and I wonder if I’d have liked it a bit more with a different actor. He just seemed so “wrong” while Mulligan felt so “right”. That’s my only real complaint, though. Overall, I enjoyed An Education although it’s not really something that would become a favorite or anything like that. It’s worth watching just once if you think you’d like it. It’s ducky!

My Rating: 7/10

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Gone Girl (2014) Review

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****SPOILER-FREE REVIEW****

Gone Girl (2014)

Directed by David Fincher

Based on Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Starring:
Ben Affleck
Rosamund Pike
Neil Patrick Harris
Tyler Perry
Carrie Coon
Kim Dickens

Running time: 149 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
With his wife’s disappearance having become the focus of an intense media circus, a man sees the spotlight turned on him when it’s suspected that he may not be innocent.

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My Opinion:

Yes, I’ve read Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (you can read my review of the book HERE – also spoiler-free). I really will keep this short as it’s a hard movie to discuss without spoilers and, for those who haven’t read the book, I hate the thought of anyone spoiling the story for you. It’s a GREAT story and it’s what I loved the most about the book. I’ll say now that, if you’ve read the book, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with the film. If you haven’t read the book, I think you’ll enjoy the film even more as you’ll be getting to watch the story unfold without any knowledge of what’s going to happen next. You’ll be getting to experience the same feeling I had reading the book, which I read very quickly as I couldn’t wait to find out what would happen next.

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I had my doubts about Ben Affleck being in this as he wasn’t at all what I pictured and seemed a bit too old. Well, you know what? He’s great in this! I was happier with Rosamund Pike being cast as she did fit my picture of the character. She’s absolutely amazing as Amy! I’m very happy with all the performances but especially Affleck, Pike, and Kim Dickens who does a fantastic job playing the main detective. Carrie Coon is also good as Affleck’s twin sister but her character felt a little less explored than in the book where she was one of my favorite characters.

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As far as movie adaptations of books go, I’m happy to say they’ve done an excellent job with this one. As always, things had to be left out to keep the running time down but I don’t think it was anything that hurt the story in any way. You of course aren’t going to get quite as much character development as you will in a book but they came very close to achieving as much as possible, especially with the main and most important characters. I’d have liked to see more of Rosamund Pike as I didn’t feel they captured her character as well as in the book (through no fault of Pike’s, though – again, this will just be down to time restraints).

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Summary:

This movie is very good. I don’t think many people will find it better than Fincher’s Fight Club or Seven but I think it comes fairly close in some ways. I know some people have been a little disappointed with his more recent efforts but I can’t see many people coming out of Gone Girl and saying they didn’t at least enjoy the story and the performances. In a way, I’m jealous of those who get to watch this without having read the book as I never enjoy a film as much if I’ve read the book (especially this sort of genre) as it loses its impact when you know the outcome. I’m very happy with the adaptation, though. Seriously – I have no complaints there and think they’ve done a pretty damn good job achieving all they did in 149 minutes as it’s a very complex story and set of characters. Well done to all involved! I definitely recommend this one and, if you’ve not read the book, I’d almost say to watch the movie first and then read the book to further flesh out the characters. This is probably the first time I’d EVER say to do things in that order! I just think you’ll have a great time with this movie if you go into it knowing as little as possible.

My Rating: 8/10

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David Fincher’s Gone Girl Has Different Third Act From Original Novel

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I love this creepy ass photo from Entertainment Weekly. Click here to read all about what Gillian Flynn had to say in the EW article about her own reworking of her novel to adapt it for the screen (the article stays spoiler-free): SlashFilm.

Very interesting! Well, it could be a good thing. I’m still not sure if I was crazy about the third act of the otherwise exciting & intense book (you can read my spoiler-free review HERE).

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (Book Review)

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Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

What It’s About:

On the morning of Nick Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary, his wife Amy goes missing. The police immediately suspect Nick. The mystery unravels as we get to know Nick in present time throughout the investigation and Amy through her past diary entries.

My Thoughts:

This isn’t normally the type of novel that I read. I’m always reading Stephen King (or Dean Koontz when I need something lighter than King) or the tons of quite good young adult fiction that’s floating around these days. But sometimes I grab one of these best seller types for proper “adults”. I really did enjoy the story in this book and would possibly read one of Flynn’s other books in the future (after Doctor Sleep, of course).

This book is pretty much impossible to talk about without spoiling the entire story so I’ll have to focus more on the characters. It’s definitely the story that had me hooked. I always prefer when the main characters are likeable in books and in Gone Girl they definitely aren’t. Nick & Amy got on my nerves. They’re both writers (absolutely nothing wrong with writers! I’d love to be able to be a writer!). But sometimes I find this a little annoying in books. I know you often “write what you know” so that’s why books so often feature writers (hell, King is the worst for this & I love his stuff). Nick & Amy are both a little pretentious & totally selfish and the things they do and the way they act just didn’t feel very realistic. The way they bicker is more like a couple who has been together for YEARS & maybe had kids and all that – it’s hard to believe a marriage is so awful after only five years but, then again, they both seem like extremely hard people to live with. Amy’s parents are odd, her ex-boyfriend is weird, and past situations involving Amy are too far-fetched. For a smart guy, Nick is a dope who does some idiotic things. The best character is Nick’s twin sister – she provides some laughs. And the main investigator is okay. But none of the characters in the book felt “real” to me, even though they were very well written. Gillian Flynn does do a great job fleshing them out & I felt I knew them very well by the end of the book – I just didn’t “like” them.

The story, however, is great. Lots of twists & turns that constantly keep you guessing. I take ages to get through a book but I finished this one pretty quick as I wanted to know what would happen. I liked how the story is told from two sides (Nick’s story as it happens & Amy’s story through her diary). It was an interesting way to get to know the characters. Unfortunately, the first half of the book was better than the second half and the story does fall apart a bit. Then… The ending. I won’t say a word but that must have divided people. I wasn’t crazy about it but it sort of makes sense. It will be interesting to see what they do with the movie. It could make a very good movie if done right. It’s being made by David Fincher so it has potential. However, it’s also starring Ben Affleck so… Maybe not. SO wrong for the part of Nick! Rosamund Pike doesn’t seem a bad choice for Amy, though, so we shall see. Oh, and Doogie Howser is in it, too.

Summary:

Gone Girl is an exciting psychological thriller that constantly keeps you guessing with its twists & turns. Flynn has written a very entertaining story that seems destined for the big screen so I’m not surprised that we’ll be seeing the film soon. The main characters, although unlikeable and almost impossible to relate to, are richly developed & very complex and you’ll feel like you know them by the end of the book. I’d recommend this to anyone who enjoys a thriller with a good mystery you won’t have completely figured out by the second page.

My Rating: 3.5/5