What a film. It sure was an education. Based on a true story, of Lynn Barber's hedonistic sexual days in 1960s London. The film should be shocking, verging on pedophilic. Instead Nick Hornby captures the excitement of Jenny (playing the character of Lynn) when she is taken into the bourgeois dazzling world of her older man.
The glamour. The clothes. The places. The disposable (it seems) money available. No wonder Jenny finds herself taking time out of school to experience life, to escape the tedious middle class suburbia, enthralled by the glamourous and exciting life the older sophiscated man promises.
However, I found myself shouting at the screen, but what about your studies? What about your dream Oxford? Doesn't she know that this will all come to her in a few short months, if she works hard now? Ahh, the benefit of hindsight. It doesn't help that her otherwise strict parents who before she met this man, stopped her from playing her french records too loud, now let her galvant off with an older, unknown man. Surely not? But yes, they are sadly taken in by this charming, wealthy (it seems) man and let him take young Jenny wherever he pleases.
Cut to a trip to Oxford, to apparently meet C.S Lewis (yeah right) and the beautiful trip to paree. Ahh I must say I loved that scene, Carey Mullighan sporting a beautiful chic haircut, looking all sophiscated and lovely. To die for. But this is not the point, the point is Jenny's dream of Oxford is now looking further and further away.
The fact that her parents are even taken in by this man, leaves no boundaries for poor Jenny. They consider, perhaps not Oxford, the otherwise life long dream, perhaps marriage with the older wealthy man. This is when the context of the 1960s comes to play, I was shocked but this is what it was like for young women in the 60s. Not like today, the choice was marriage or a select few to University and Oxford. The fact that the female teachers seem at first not to be an inspiration for Jenny, also is part of why she is led astray. Why work so hard, go to Oxford if all you can be is an unfulfilled school teacher, "reading about ponies". Little does Jenny know that this will gradually change, and women as time goes on will become just as successful as men.
Towards the end, Jenny becomes engaged to the older man. Yet, little does she know he already has a wife and children just down the road, and consquently reguarly picks up young girls.
The dream is shattered. Jenny's life seems destroyed. No more prospects, no more Oxford, not even marriage.
However, all is not lost Jenny goes to her loyal school teacher who has always admired her, and she helps Jenny re- do her last year. Surely Oxford will still not let her in, bearing in mind she has been expelled from her all- girls school? But, she achieves the dream and the closing shot is of her riding through Oxford University on one of those old fashioned bicycles with a basket!
A brillant and captivating film, full of the glamour and naiveity of the 60s. The restraints, and the final well deserved freedom.
Lynn Barber went on to be a successful journalist, and I have enjoyed reading about her in the Daily Mail, where she has recently revealed her promiscous terms at Oxford where she chose to bed men to decide if they were good enough to date! Consquently she did find her future husband, of 20 years or so, so perhaps it proved to be rather a good method ;)