Thursday, 6 October 2011

"That's all you need, isn't it?"

Yesterday was World Teachers’ Day and I meant to do a send-up to all those great cinematic educators. Clearly, I didn’t – time constraints were the main reason. But, then, I found that I couldn’t think of a significant number of teachers I cared to fête off the top of my head. There was one teacher I could not get out of my head, though.
Readers of the blog who’ve endured my madness for some time would remember that utterly charming An Education beat out the utterly gorgeous Bright Star for my favourite film in 2009 (in retrospect the race is even tighter, I’d declare a win). I went crazy doing a number of posts on the film but I haven’t done any writing on it recently. Even though I was thoroughly enchanted by the loveliness of Jenny Mellor, the film offered me a specific sort of dilemma seeing that its supporting cast – especially the ladies, were so wonderful. 2009 was filled with effective bit roles from supporting women (which led to this post) and, I believe it was Jose who quipped that he could do a legitimate supporting actress line-up of ladies just from An Education. I was much more entranced by Pike’s playful arm candy, Seymour’s rueful mother, and Thompson’s austere headmistress but subsequent strong turns in The Ghost Writer and Hanna made me even more appreciative of Olivia Williams’ work as the downtrodden Ms. Stubbs –the English teacher from heaven.   
She’s still my least favourite of the main cast, but that’s only because the main cast is so excellent. What many regard as an indecisive annoyance on the film’s part is a specific type of easy wisdom for me. I don’t find the alleged contrary ways of the film to be didactic. Hornby really does seem to be saying that it’s okay to be a Helen, or a Ms. Stubbs and Jenny seems to be somewhere in the middle. Hornby’s script tries to avoid being preachy, and other than the British part and the all-girls issue it does ring through to me when I remember just how tight-fisted, but yet sort of quaint my high school was. I never did have a Mrs. Stubbs...but she would have been lovely. I love that final scene of hers with Carey, for all its precision...it works.

3 comments:

Robert said...

I actually just watched this amazing movie a couple nights ago! Mrs. Stubbs was always one of my favorites - I think Olivia Williams does a fantastic job of dealing with her character's past. In fact, she and Helen I feel were both "Jennys" at one point and ended up with two different results and so it's fascinating to see how both deal with Jenny's dilemma.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

robert i never thought of helen ever being a jenny at any point, now i'm curious to see it again with that in mind.

Stevee Taylor said...

Oh, how I love Olivia Williams!