That picture says it all.
I saw this film at Sundance in January of this year, and I caught another look at it at Toronto. It's an exquisitely-crafted character study based on a memoir, and what it boils down to is that moment when a father looks another man in the eye and says to himself, "Okay. This is the guy I'm trusting her to. This is the guy I think can make the life she deserves."
What if that father is wrong?
In a way, I'm glad both my kids are boys. I can't imagine having to survive the early years of dating, worrying about the intentions of each new kid sniffing around my little girl. I was a teenage boy. I know exactly what sort of depraved freaks they are. I have every reason not to trust a one of them. Still, there's a relationship between father and daughter that I'll never experience, and I'm sure it is rewarding in very specific ways. In "An Education," Alfred Molina plays Jack, the demanding, overbearing father of Jenny, played by the luminous Carey Mulligan. She's getting ready for university, and he pushes her hard, expecting her to find a place at Oxford. Molina takes what could be a fairly flat role and invests it with layers of identifiable human anxiety. He's worried that she won't get into the right school, which won't give her the right advantage in life after school, but beneath that, he secretly hopes that she's going to meet "the right man" before she ever has to finish school, with her education serving simply as bait for "the right man." The film's set in the '60s, just on the verge of the sexual revolution, and Jenny is in a social position where she is defined by her relationship to men. And it's obvious from the moment we meet her in the film that this is a person of consequence, someone who should only be defined by herself. Reaching the point where she can make that stand is the entire focus of the film, and it's a journey that is absolutely worth sharing with her.