DRAMA; 1hr 40min
STARRING: Peter Sarsgaard, Carey Mulligan
Monkey business: Mulligan and Sarsgaard
In 1961 London, life in the ’burbs is as drab as a rainy day. For pretty bright spark Jenny (a chameleonic Mulligan), in her final year at school and hoping for acceptance at Oxford, a chance meeting with a 30-ish man (Sarsgaard, ambiguously suave as David) becomes a whirlwind revelation. David drives a sleek car and seems to live a sleek, cashed-up life, palling around with a glamour-puss couple (Dominic Cooper and Rosamund Pike) who instantly embrace his new girl. He effortlessly charms her conservative parents (Alfred Molina and Cara Seymour), and in no time Jenny is swanning about champagne-swirled nightclubs in an LBD and an upsweep, looking as luminous as only a bedazzled 16-year-old can.
If Nick Hornby’s screenplay, adapted from journalist Lynn Barber’s memoir and directed by Lone Scherfig, is surprisingly mellow and forgiving, it’s because Hornby (About a Boy) knows how seductive it is to be swept away. Jenny is easy to understand in her naïve desire to live a dream and David to forgive for his futile wish that the fantasy were true.