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Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Carey Mulligan is a Sundance sensation

A 23-year-old British actress called Carey Mulligan (pictured) has become an overnight Hollywood sensation at the Sundance film festival, now underway in Utah. She's the star of An Education, a coming-of-age drama based on the Observer journalist Lynn Barber's early 1960s memoir about a 16-year-old schoolgirl who falls in love with an older man.

Directed by Lone Scherfig, the Danish filmmaker known for her 2000 comedy Italian for Beginners, and with a script by the London writer Nick Hornby, the film has been receiving rave reviews since it was screened on Sunday night. “There's no movie in this festival that's quite as ravishing, as witty, as well-acted or as satisfying overall as An Education," writes Andrew O’Hehir on He goes on to describe Mulligan’s turn as the precocious 16-year-old Jenny as “a performance of Audrey Hepburn-esque starmaking intensity”.

The ”older man”, a 30-something bounder who drives a sports car, charms her parents (Alfred Molina and Cara Seymour) and steers Jenny off the path to Oxford, is played by the American actor Peter Sarsgaard. Emma Thompson plays Jenny’s strict headmistress and Olivia Williams her favourite teacher.

But the break-out performance comes from the little-known Mulligan, who until now has had parts in Waking the Dead and Doctor Who and the regulation costume dramas. According to a review on, Mulligan is "fantastic, utterly believable as a schoolgirl who desperately wants to be seen as a sophisticated adult".

An Education began as a 12-page story by Barber, best known for her newspaper interviews, in Granta magazine. Some critics are already claiming it’s the best film at Sundance and, to the delight of Hornby and Scherfig, Sony have snapped up the US distribution rights for between $3m - $4m.


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