Home > Reviews > AN EDUCATION – Paul Englishby

AN EDUCATION – Paul Englishby

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A coming-of-age drama set in England in the 1960s, An Education stars Carey Mulligan as Jenny, a precocious 16-year-old schoolgirl with a talent for playing the cello, who falls in with a crowd of socially privileged, upper class friends, who want to expose her to a richer, more fulfilling cultural life than her drab suburban life would otherwise allow. Gradually, and despite the misgivings of her staid father (Alfred Molina), Jenny falls for the suave and charismatic David (Peter Sarsgaard), who despite being twice her age, promises her a better life. However, the more Jenny finds out about David and his companions, and specifically how they make their money, the more she has to make difficult choices.

The film, which is directed by Danish filmmaker Lone Scherfig from Nick Hornby’s popular novel and co-stars Olivia Williams, Dominic Cooper, Rosamund Pike and Emma Thompson, has been critically lauded on both sides of the Atlantic, and looks set to feature prominently at the 2009 Academy Awards. The film’s score is by English composer Paul Englishby, writing the second major score of his career after having spent several years as an arranger and orchestrator in the British film industry.

His five tracks amount to just over 11 minutes of original score, and are mainly based in the piano and strings idiom, and play in quiet counterpoint to Jenny’s romantic adventures. “David and Jenny” features a pretty, idyllic wandering flute piece; “Waltz in the Street” has a delicately optimistic piano theme which gradually builds into a gently opulent string-and-woodwind waltz melody; the titular “An Education” is a typically carefree English piece for the full orchestra that lightly threads its way through a fluttery, optimistic main theme that is quite lovely; “Letters” is more downbeat, with a morose, occasionally quite stark piano and cello combo that adds a touch of pathos to Jenny’s troubled relationships; “Jenny’s Theme” itself is more innocent, and the central piano melody has a touch of Forrest Gump about it.

Also included on the album are a couple of period-style original songs, including the seductive, jazzy “You’ve Got Me Wrapped Around Your Little Finger” performed by English blues singer Beth Rowley, and the smoky “Smoke Without Fire” by soulful Welsh vocalist Duffy. There are also several other cuts from the period itself, by artists as varied as Mel Tormé, Ray Charles, Brenda Lee and Billy Fury, as well as a couple of instrumentals by Percy Faith and Vince Guaraldi. It’s all very light and undemanding, richly rooted in the period in which the film is set, but a pleasant enough diversion, especially for fans of the critically acclaimed movie.

Rating: ***½

Track Listing:

  • You’ve Got Me Wrapped Around Your Little Finger (performed by Beth Rowley) (2:58)
  • On the Rebound (performed by Floyd Cramer) (2:07)
  • Sous le Ciel de Paris (performed by Juliette Gréco) (3:19)
  • Comin’ Home Baby (performed by Mel Tormé) (2:41)
  • Teen Scene (performed by Hunters) (2:04)
  • Tell the Truth (performed by Ray Charles) (3:03)
  • Sweet Nothin’s (performed by Brenda Lee) (2:23)
  • Maybe Tomorrow (performed by Billy Fury) (2:12)
  • David and Jenny (1:29)
  • Sur Les Quais du Vieux Paris (performed by Juliette Gréco) (3:04)
  • Theme from A Summer Place” (performed by Percy Faith & His Orchestra) (2:22)
  • A Sunday Kind of Love (performed by Beth Rowley) (3:18)
  • Since I Fell For You (performed by Vince Guaraldi Trio) (4:21)
  • Waltz in the Street (1:22)
  • Smoke Without Fire (performed by Duffy) (4:00)
  • Your Heart Is As Black As Night (performed by Melody Gardot) (2:43)
  • An Education (3:11)
  • The Letters (3:28)
  • Jenny’s Theme (1:33)
  • J’Ai Deux Amours (performed by Madeleine Peyroux) (2:58)

Running Time: 54 minutes 56 seconds

Decca D001341502 (2009)

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