Monday, December 13, 2010

A Monkey Movie Review

For every hundred coming of age films that are about a horny teenage boy trying to lose his cherry there's one really good coming of age film about a teenage girl. In my opinion there have been two really great ones and they are The Slums of Beverly Hills and this film:
The story in this movie is as old as time itself. Girl meets worldly suave older man, older man shows her the finer things in life, seduces her, then she finds out about the past that he's been hiding and they break up. It's been done before in other films but rarely has it been done this well. And a lot of the credit for how well it goes in this film is due to the film's author, Nick Hornby (who also wrote my favorite Christmas movie ever, About a Boy), and to all the actors who brought his words and characters to life.

Peter Sarsgaard is neatly creepy as the older man who befriends the young girl, played brilliantly by Carey Mulligan. He reminded me of Harold Pinter character, a nice guy but if you scratch his thin veneer there's a shitload of menace underneath. He's chilling at times and at others he's a little lonely puppy dog who wants nothing more than to hold and entertain Mulligan's character.

Other standouts in this film are Alfred Molina and Cara Seymour as Mulligan's parents. They start out as gruff parents who want their daughter to be well rounded in school and to make grades good enough to get her into one of the finer colleges in England. But when they are seduced by Sarsgaard's charm and the promise of his money, they abandon their hopes for their daughter's education when it looks like she's going to be married to him one day soon. To see them rationalize this 180 degree change is fascinating and sickening all at once. Olivia Williams is a stand out as the teacher who sees that Mulligan is on the wrong path and in a rare chillingly unlikeable role, Emma Thompson is great as the icy headmistress of the Mulligan's school. Dominic Cooper and Rosamund Pike also give great nuanced performances as Sarsgaard's accomplices and friends. And finally, in a cameo role Sally Hawkins infuses more quiet dignity and desperation in a moment or two on screen than most actors do in a lifetime of work.

This is a fine film that I highly recommend.


Wings said...

Good cast, it seems. Thanks for the heads up, Doc!

Lisa said...

This sounds great. Thanks for this. I hadn't heard of this movie.

Mommy Lisa said...

I wondered about this film. I loved About A Boy too - I will have to check it out.

Margaret Benbow said...

Yes! There were times during the movie I want to scream at naive Carey "Don't do it!" and others when I wanted to jump into the screen and beat up Sarsgaard's creepy cad. But maybe that PROVES it was great.

McGriddle Pants said...

This movie made me sad. It was really well done, but just kinda sad. And I LOVE peter sarsgaard!! He'd be my brunette of the week!