An Education, a favorite film of mine from 2009, has an incredible cast of great characters and performances. If you watch the film it is not surprising that Carey Mulligan receives the bulk of the praise. She does an incredible job and is the film's protagonist.
But it's all the other characters who intermix on screen with Mulligan's character Jenny that give Carey Mulligan the chance to respond in subtly (or not so subtly in a few scenes) in the mix of these various characters.
In a film scene that often lacks great female performances, this film has a variety of female parts that are all praise worthy, particularly those of Olivia Williams, Cara Seymore, and Emma Thompson. But one other female role really sticks out in this film and that is the role of Helen played by Rosamund Pike.
Helen's character is in my mind a very challenging performance, because it takes extreme balance to be convincing. Helen is the ditsy blond trying to be sophisticated in a world of extravagance she wants to fit in. Her character despite her lack of intellect and desire to impress is not to rude to treat the intellectual school girl Jenny with scorn. No, instead Helen becomes Jenny's mother-of-worldly-things, helping her know how to fit in to a new world she has fallen into.
Every line that Pike delivers and every scene is incredibly convincing despite the unique character she plays. This could have easily been played like Reese Witherspoon played Elle Woods in Legally Blonde, but instead Pike brings a level of sophistication to the role that is not only impressive in it's own right, but also sets Carey Mulligan up for some fantastic scenes.
Rosamund Pike's accolades are relatively limited for this film on the award season scene (part of the Screen Actor Guild's Best Ensemble list, London critics circle nomination, and British Independent Film nomination) but I think that Pike, at 30 years old, certainly deserves a shot at more great roles. This role convinces me that she's an actress to watch.
This post is part of Stinky Lulu's annual supporting actress blog-a-thon. See the complete list of participants of the 4th annual blog-a-thon here.
Here are my previous contributions for this blog-a-thon include:
Class of 2008: Frances McDormand in Burn After Reading
Class of 2007: Allison Janney in Juno & Hairspray
Class of 2006: Adriana Barazza in Babel