Carey Mulligan's impressive performance in An Education stands out, as does novelist Nick Hornby's script. Critics agree the story of a 16-year-old seduced by an older man is a dazzling mix of acting, writing, and direction that transcends the typical coming-of-age tale:
- “Prepare to be wowed by Carey Mulligan, whose sensational, starmaking performance as Jenny ignited film festivals from Sundance to Toronto,” writes Peter Travers for Rolling Stone.
- “The filmmakers, led by Mr. Hornby's script, offer a dramatic education on the nature of being young—of wanting to feast on experience without being able to read the menu,” writes Joe Morgenstern for the Wall Street Journal. The main character’s ”beauty and her agile mind allow her to be precocious without being insufferable.”
- “The notion of the single performance that creates a star overnight is surely one of Hollywood's biggest cliches, but this is one time when you can take it to the bank. That may seem ironic because there is nothing Hollywood at all about this British independent film,” writes Kenneth Turan for the Los Angeles Times. “There's a magical, almost kismet-esque quality about the way all these talents came together.”