peteg's blog

An Education

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It's 1961 in Twickenham. Apparently affluent charming playboy Peter Sarsgaard picks up final year schoolgirl Carey Mulligan, and her aspirational parents (unpersuasive Alfred Molina, girlish Cara Seymour) approve of her throwing away Oxford in favour of marriage. Predictable outcomes ensue. There's some useful friction with the older Ms Gone Girl Rosamund Pike, born to it. Olivia Williams, the concerned Miss English Teacher, needs a tango lesson. Emma Thompson plays the headmistress to type. Sally Hawkins is squandered as a suburban wife.

It's not so much Lolita as an expansion and coy dilution of the Diana subthread of Trainspotting; Mulligan even gets in a Renton-style spray about how shite it is to be English, so boring, such limited prospects for women, even with a degree. There's a daft scene at a dog track: of course after her dog comes in she gets proposed to in the parking lot. All the furniture of one of David Lynch's small-town efforts is there, minus the weird; Beth Rowley smokes as a nightclub singer. As for coming-of-age movies, you'd be better off watching something that involves real skill, like surfing. The saccharine tacked-on happy ending emphasises the lack of conviction in all that came before.

A. O. Scott. Dana Stevens.

Joe Ide: IQ.

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Kindle. South-Central L.A., the setting of Paul Beatty's The Sellout, finds Isaiah Quintabe ("IQ", geddit?) in the thick of an angling-for-a-TV-series hybridization of The Godfather and Sherlock Holmes. This Michael Corleone finds himself railroaded into the dark arts by two-track workmanlike prose that tries to keep us guessing within the genre constraints of crime/mystery/thriller. There are mercifully few characters, and doubtlessly more sapient readers than I figured it all out by halfway. I lost interest in what the author was doing with all those drugs. Gangsta rap is tired, as is the violence. Cheap guilty fun, not cinematic. The misogyny is unreconstructed. I don't think anything comes under substantial scrutiny. There are two more since this came out in 2016.

Janet Maslin.