A 2009 British coming of agedrama film, set in 1961 London.Sixteen-year-old Jenny (Carey Mulligan) is attending school, preparing for her A-levels and hoping to go to Oxford. One day, she meets an older man named David (Peter Sarsgaard), who charms her into a romance, distracting from her schoolwork. David introduces her to a whole new world out of her little suburb—a world of nightclubs, auctions for beautiful paintings, racing, and romance. Jenny soon has to make a choice between the academic world she's always prepared for—and the world of fun.But little does she know how much David is hiding...
This film provides examples of:
All That Glitters: Nearing the climax of the film, Jenny chooses to take the easy way out by dropping out of school and marrying David. However, it is revealed that David is already married, and he runs out on Jenny when she finds out.
Bittersweet Ending/Earn Your Happy Ending: David turns out to be a lying scumbag, and Jenny finds herself without her test results and without an admittance letter to Oxford. She chooses to work hard to get there despite it all, gets accepted, and moves on to what looks like a pleasant and accomplished life.
Double Entendre: When Jenny expresses an interest in seeing France, David replies that he'd love to take her, and there's "so much" he wants her to see. Cue Danny and Helen exchanging an uncomfortable glance.
Education Papa: Jenny's dad. He approves of Jenny's intentions of going to Oxford, and he pressures her even more to study and work on her dream. Ideally, she should be only studying and improving her Latin, and as far as music goes, her playing the violin is just fine, none of the French modern music nonsense! He simply doesn't want her to be distracted by anything inappropriate. However, he's also fairly kind and understanding, and Jenny's mom knows how to influence him.
Everybody Knew Already: Rather, they didn't even try to keep it a secret. Seriously, when your headmistress knows not only that you are planning on losing your virginity, but when, to whom, and roughly where, you are doing something very wrong.
Expository Hairstyle Change: Jenny wears her hair in sophisticated updos when she's with David and his friends, but goes back to her usual girlish hairstyle—representing the fact that for all her attempts at seeming grown-up, that she is still really a child—both when she's at home or at school, and once she discovers his deception and the relationship ends.
Foreshadowing: Frequent discussion of Jane Eyre in Jenny's English class. Mr. Rochester was keeping his wife a secret as well.
Helen: You have a French conversation teacher? Is that why you suddenly speak French? For no reason?
Green-Eyed Monster: David claims Danny is this when he doesn't seem too pleased by Jenny's engagement to David; Danny just didn't want Jenny to get hurt because both Helen and he knew that David was already married.
Horrible Judge of Character: Even after learning of David's shady business, Jenny continues to be strung along by David until the climax. Her father also, as he admits that he heard something that should have tipped him off to the fact that David wasn't completely honest, but he chose to ignore it, having himself been so drawn in by David's flashy lifestyle.
I Just Want to Be Special: Jenny is attracted to David and his adventurous life, full of concerts, jazz music, and parties, in comparison to her apparent "boring" life, full of attending school, studying for Oxford, and reading Latin.
Ironic Echo: Of sorts. David takes Jenny to Paris, a place she has always wanted to go to, as she loves French books, films, and music. At the end of the film, Jenny's boyfriend said he wants to take her to Paris, and Jenny narrates that she acted surprised, as if she had never been there before.
Mood Whiplash: Several scenes. Often, whenever the music changes tone is a hint to David's shady schemes.
Motive Decay: An in-universe example. Jenny wants to attend Oxford so that she can study and read English. After being exposed to David and his much more attractive life (and at the approval of her parents), Jenny gives this up to marry David, as he can already give her the life she has always wanted. This decision comes back to bite her.
My God, What Have I Done?: When Jenny discovers that David is a married man, she is devastated, as she dropped out of school and didn't take her A-levels, to be with him.
Never Trust a Trailer: The segment that the trailer showed of Emma Thompson's character made her seem like a rather stern but not unkind mentor—"You must think I'm a ruined woman." "Oh, no. You're not a woman." Not so in the actual movie.
One Dialogue, Two Conversations: While Jenny and Danny are dancing, they have a discussion about art. Or at least, this is what Jenny thinks. Danny is really subtly warning Jenny that David isn't what he seems.
Overprotective Dad: Jenny's dad obviously dislikes Jenny's suitor Graham and is initially a bit wary of David, but David's charm easily persuades him.
Emma Thompson appears as a ruthless and anti-Semitic schoolmistress.
Rosamund Pike as Dumb Blonde Helen is a particularly odd example, not just because Pike normally plays intelligent ice queens, but because in real life Rosamund Pike basically is who Jenny wants to be (trained cellist, bilingual in French, and studied English Literature at Oxford).
Spoiled Sweet: Though Helen can be quite blunt at times, she becomes fast friends with Jenny and is relatively nice to her.
Stalker with a Crush: Assumed, but not intended. In the final scene with Jenny and her new boyfriend biking around the Oxford campus, David's car can be seen parked on the side of the street. This is remnant from the longer original ending in which David tries to win Jenny back. Carey Mulligan and director Lone Scherfig joke on the DVD commentary that only a few people actually catch this on the first viewing and those who do catch it assume that David has resorted to stalking her.
Those Two Guys: Jenny's friends, Hattie and Tina. They're a great Greek Chorus for Jenny's ego, hanging on every detail of her romance, but then either she dumps them or they dump her because they're never seen again. Though, it might be because she dropped out of school, so it wasn't necessary for them to be seen again.
A deleted scene would have shown Jenny apologising to them for being a bad friend after The Reveal.
Jenny pulls this twice of David for his shady business (but she gets over it quickly) and when she finds out about his wife; she also pulls this on Danny, who always knew about the latter. Danny counters this by reminding Jenny that she didn't think too much of their shady business either.
Jenny's teacher and headmistress both question Jenny on her May-December Romance on more than one occasion. And Jenny pushes right back.
Your Cheating Heart To the point where the only that really upsets David's wife is how young Jenny is. Her dialogue makes it clear that this isn't the first time one of his spurned lovers has shown up on their doorstep—and some have even been worse off than Jenny, being "in the family way"