The Lolita overtones kick in right from the opening credits on An Education, with close-up shots of comely high school girls hula-hooping.

The Lolita overtones kick in right from the opening credits on An Education, with close-up shots of comely high school girls hula-hooping.

Sixteen-year-old Jenny (Carey Mulligan) is standing on the side of the street in the rain when she's offered a ride by the much older David (Peter Sarsgaard). He acknowledges the danger of taking rides with strangers, and suggests, as a music lover himself, to transport her cello while she walks alongside. Charmed, she hops in the car.

We can see that Jenny, even at 16, is way out of David's league. She's Oxford-bound, with a boundless appreciation for art, French film and good food. He's an admitted con artist who can show her those things.

David even seduces Jenny's parents with relative ease. Jenny bets he can't convince them to let him take her to Paris for the weekend. She loses.

There's a growing sense of dread as we watch her fall for David, wondering just how far he's going to go, just how awfully this will end.

Mulligan is deservedly getting Oscar buzz for her beautiful, layered performance; she's a petulant teen around her parents, a gorgeous and confident woman on her weekend getaways, and, too often, the only grown-up in the room.

The script from Nick Hornby, adapted from British journalist Lynn Barber's memoir, is excellent and there's some neat cinematography, too, especially in the particularly dreamy Paris sequence.

Everything's pitch perfect - up until the final 10 minutes, which feel tacked on from some very different sort of movie.