Reflecting on the film An Education (2009): The Hardest Lesson Is Not Always Taught in School

There’s no shortcut to success. Well unless you are really lucky you might be able to live the high life depending on the variables of your circumstance and whether it works in your favor. If you were to ask me, I’m a big advocate for education but think the system is entirely broken and only the privileged benefit from it (I’ll try not to get political) and most of my good friends are book smart, but street smart not so much.

Good girl falls for the bad boy. It’s a classic tale and that has been told several times. It’s as most girls believe themselves to be Belle from Beauty and the Beast thinking they can tame the wild beast. My mature self is thinking: no dear, life is not a fairy tale and yet we girls were to born to believe it otherwise. Wolves simply don’t care. If they are hungry, they will devour you even if you are sweet.

In this film, directed by Lone Scherfig, written by Lynn Barbe, tells a story about a 16-year-old girl named Jenny who got seduced by a man twice her age. Pressured by her dad and school, Jenny sought anything but a boring life because she really is nothing but boring. All she does is prep for the exams to get into Oxford University and once she gets her degree, she’ll continue the tradition. Yes, a boring life. Until one day, all of that change when she got rescued by a guy who drove a fancy maroon car. He noticed her standing beside the street in the pouring rain with her cello and decided to pull up and offer her a ride, claiming he didn’t want the cello to get damaged by the rain. Sounds reasonable enough. Instantly, she is wooed by his random act of kindness.

Sounds kind of romantic but crazy at the same time. You see, not only was the protagonist blinded, but her parents were also blinded by this seemingly charming guy when she brought him home. He’s a classy crook by profession. No seriously, he really is a criminal that gets away with the law. That’s because he is so good at it. He’s so good that he deceived her parents into believing that he has inside connection with Oxford University. Like any parents, they just want the best for their child. So, they fell into his deception and allowed her to date him even though he’s twice her age (I believe I mentioned his age earlier).

As an audience, the film sort of try to make its viewers empathize with the situation but it was hard for me. I think it’s partially my cultural background as I was taught never to accept gifts from men, especially from strangers. So, I found some events in the film unconvincing even though I knew what it was implying. When dealing with a wolf in sheep clothing, it’s hard to put your guard up because everything happens so quickly. And when you are young, you lack experiences so you don’t know any better. I was once a teenager too. We think we know but we don’t know and it’s not really our fault because wisdom comes with experience and there really is no shortcut. At least that is the message I got from the film.

Yes, I know I was stupid. The life I want, there’s no shortcut.

I quote the protagonist.

Overall, decent film with dramatized effects. Good thing, the film is not all tragedy but a lesson to be learned. Perhaps, that’s why it’s called An Education. So go to school and get an education and be self-sufficient so that you don’t get your heart broken by a no-good sugar daddy.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) Review: The Anti-Material Girl

Should I have changed my title for this review to a story about a Classy but Penniless Gold Digger who Can’t Survive on her Own? That would mislead the readers on what I think about the beloved character Holly played by Audrey Hepburn. To call her a gold digger is far from the truth. However, at a glance it’s hard not to judge since that was the first impression I got from looking at the cover despite what critics say and what my older peers thought. In fact an older woman recommended this film to me. Now I see why.

Before I provide you my personal input about this classic film, let’s talk about the plot. It’s not all bad as it sounds if you are a carefree-loving wild cat and are on the liberal side of life. This film is about an unmarried woman who appears to be happy. She’s wild, fun, and entertaining. But underneath it all–she needs help more than anything. For example, she doesn’t know how to budget money; she makes her living through entertaining sugar daddies; She throws lavish parties; and doing things out of the norm. Sometimes I wonder how a classy gal can afford such things. Then again, her acquaintances have big money. Also being beautiful has its perks. She draws men to her like moths to a bright lamp at night. Even her neighbor, a writer struggling to make it big–named Paul Varjak, comes to her aid when she needs him. What a lucky girl just for being beautiful. In the end, she settled with Paul out of love when she could have picked one of her millionaire acquaintances, which makes this film a heart warming story. All it took for Holly to say yes to Paul is the prized ring found in the Cracker Jack box. The particular scene where the Tiffany’s sales clerk agrees to engrave the initial on the Cracker Jack’s ring for 10 dollars implies that love doesn’t have a set price. And most importantly, what is the probability of finding love? It’s worth more than all the diamonds you can buy. It’s a bold statement to women that you don’t always need diamonds to feel loved.

In conclusion, films like Breakfast at Tiffany’s point out the cold hard truth to material women. What it got right about love is that “love is plenty enough,” I quote from the film. Now that’s gold because to love is a rare emotion that some of us might never experience in our lifetime. So why trade the emotion for material security to fill the empty void in our hearts? What women really need is emotional security. The film says no to material things, but yes to immaterial things. How ironic is that, considering Tiffany’s is a jewelry store? The writer Paul Varjak is the jewelry store. He makes her feel like a diamond. Great metaphor! Overall, I love this film!

***

Enjoyed this review? Want more of Audrey Hepburn? Please check out my other review:

The Children’s Hour Review: When Lesbian Is Not Sexualized

What I Learned from The NeverEnding Story (1984)

For years I have never visited the Cinerama. Why? Partly because I substituted video games for movies, which I barely play these days. Oh, how technology has changed. I’m too lazy to visit a theater. Aren’t movie theaters a bit outdated ever since the birth of Netflix? Sometimes, after work or even during my school days, I just want to make a dash home. This introvert needs to recharge mentally. But lately I am changing my old ways. When I was a teenager, I had bad anxiety so I rarely go out. I was like the girl from Cast Away on the Moon. I was thin (still am) with unbrush hair castaway in my bedroom. Mother used to complain all the time. I need to eat and brush my hair. I am going to die if I don’t eat and no man will love me if I’m ugly (maybe that’s the point Mom). Now that I have more freedom from my family (they treat me like a 5 year old no matter how old I am because I am the baby girl in the family) I went to see The Neverending Story last year by myself because I am bad-ass like that.

What is so neat about the Cinerama, it doesn’t showcase new movies; it plays older movies. I think it’s a wonderful idea for those who want to watch old movies on big screen. There’s nothing more exciting than going to a theater, buying overpriced fountain drinks and popcorn and enjoying the surround sound system. This is one reason why I love watching horror movies and action movies at the theater. It’s for the experience. If I want to see something slow pace, I prefer to watch it in the comfort of my own place.

Like the protagonist, I enjoyed reading adventure/fantasy books and was often bullied by school brats when I was a kid. So, it’s only natural to find comfort in books where the world felt safer. The Neverending Story is like the real world, in which, life is filled with uncertainties, but we got to keep pushing towards a goal, whatever that may be. On a side note, as I was sitting in the theater, I couldn’t help but laughed that the movie is like MMORPG. That’s why I don’t play online games. I rather finish the game and be done with it because “no book is safe.” We get sucked into a different world and might never come back!

In the movie, the protagonist, young boy, loss his mother and find it difficult to attend school (Oh, I know that feeling so well. I dreaded going to school, particularly middle school).  His father said to him that life goes on when the boy told his father he dreamt of his mother. Of course, life goes on.  The young boy learned with the character inside The Neverending Story book, that we too, can have the courage to keep pushing forward and save ourselves through someone’s else world. But we got to make the effort to move forward even if we are scared! After all, even brave men learned that they can be cowards too in certain situation, and that’s perfectly normal. Along the way, if we keep moving forward, good luck will find us.

In the current event we are witnessing now (this pandemic), I think we all need that reminder that it’s okay to feel weak, uncertain and scared. It doesn’t make us any less of a person, but we have to have the determination and confidence to push through no matter what.