"Why, Chanel No. 5, of course." - Marilyn Monroe
I cannot recall how or why I became obsessed with Chanel No. 5 perfume (I don't think it had anything to do with Marilyn Monroe), but I've loved the perfume since I was about 12 years old and first started reading magazines. The first magazine I ever bought was the August 1989 issue of Seventeen. Fast forward to 1991 and I had no less than six magazine subscriptions, including Seventeen, allure, Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Elle, and Mademoiselle (RIP)...that's a lot of fashion reading for a 14 year old. I don't even think Chanel No. 5 was particulary popular at the time, but I coveted (still do) Chanel quilted handbags and the perfume was the only Chanel thing I could afford (besides the nail polish and lipgloss). At the time people were all "My grandma wears that perfume!" but to me that didn't make me feel like I was going to smell like an old lady, it made me feel like I was liking something classic.
Although the presence of Chanel No. 5 really doesn't have anything to do with why I absolutely adore this movie, it certainly didn't hurt.
In a way, this movie reminded me of "Reality Bites", in the sense that it made smoking look totally chic. I know, smoking is bad for you, but I think some people do it really well and make it look very cosmopolitan and sophisticated. Jenny and Helen did just that.
This movie reiterated my feeling that I was born in the wrong decade. While I am a feminist and fiercely independent, I'm also very old fashioned and think that it would have been lovely to learn how to ballroom dance in high school, take cooking classes, and study dead languages. I know that my junior high offered home economics, but I didn't get to take it because I was in band (I was the lone girl who played the drums...such a trailblazer). I saw a bit of myself in Jenny, except for the fact that she was a top student and had both boys and men after her.
This movie just made me so HAPPY and honestly made me squeal in delight in several spots (it's a life fantasy to attend an art auction and actually BID on something). The overall tone of the movie is not pleasant, as it deals with disappointment and lies and deception, but it handles all that in such a pleasant, optimistic tone to the point that you truly believe "everything happens for a reason" and that Jenny's going to come out on top.
"An Education" is based on the life of Lynn Barber, who said this when asked "What did you learn from Simon (the real-life older man she had an affair with)?":
"What did I get from Simon? An education -- the thing my parents always wanted me to have... I learned about expensive restaurants and luxury hotels and foreign travel, I learned about antiques and Bergman films and classical music. But actually there was a much bigger bonus than that. My experience with Simon entirely cured my craving for sophistication. By the time I got to Oxford, I wanted nothing more than to meet kind, decent, straightforward boys my own age, no matter if they were gauche or virgins. I would marry one eventually and stay married all my life and for that, I suppose, I have Simon to thank."
This is so poignant and amazing. When I was 15 - 18, I crushed on hockey players, as they were hot and were the epitome of "cool dudes" in my high school. When I was 18 - 22, I liked the slightly quirky frat boys who liked to party, made me laugh, and who my friends thought were cute. When I was 23 - 27, I crushed on slick, quick-witted, smooth-talking dudes who had jobs that sounded a little impressive. Now that I'm in my early 30's, what I find both physically and mentally attractive is so different than what it was when I was in my early 20's. Lynn/Jenny is lucky to have learned that lesson at such an early age.