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The Weekend Australian - Review - - Television - Evan Wil­liams

THERE is no more in­ter­est­ing screen pres­ence th­ese days than Carey Mul­li­gan, the English ac­tress first seen in Pride and Prej­u­dice with Keira Knight­ley in 2005. Since then she has been much in de­mand for darker, more se­ri­ous roles. Last year saw her in Shame, play­ing op­po­site Michael Fassbender’s sex-ad­dicted hero, and re­cently I praised her haunt­ing per­for­mance in Never Let Me Go, based on Kazuo Ishig­uro’s novel about cloned chil­dren. The Coen brothers cast her in In­side Llewyn Davis, about a Bob Dy­lan-style folk singer, and soon we’ll be see­ing her in Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby. But I doubt if she has done any­thing bet­ter than An Ed­u­ca­tion (Satur­day, 9.30pm, SBS One), a beau­ti­ful coming-of-age story based on a mem­oir by Lynn Bar­ber. Mul­li­gan is Jenny, grow­ing up in a work­ing-class English fam­ily in the 1960s. Her fa­ther is de­ter­mined she will study at Ox­ford. But, while still at school, Jenny meets a man roughly twice her age, the charm­ing and plau­si­ble David (Peter Sars­gaard), who treats her as an in­tel­li­gent adult, takes her to cul­tural per­for­mances, broad­ens her knowl­edge of the arts and con­vinces her fam­ily that his in­ten­tions are en­tirely honourable. But can they be sure?

Of the var­i­ous an­i­mated mu­si­cal block­busters pro­duced by the Dis­ney stu­dios in the 90s, none was more loved or more suc­cess­ful than The Lion King (Satur­day, 6.30pm, Seven). The usual pat­tern with mu­si­cals was for the film to fol­low the Broad­way show, but in this case the film came first, spawn­ing not only the Broad­way mu­si­cal but an an­i­mated TV se­ries and two straight-to-DVD se­quels. The idea for the story — a lion cub’s coming of age in the African veldt, his ban­ish­ment at the hands of a schem­ing un­cle, his near-death from star­va­tion and even­tual suc­ces­sion as the king of beasts — was re­port­edly de­vised by Jef­frey Katzen­berg, then Dis­ney’s head of pro­duc­tion, and in­spired (would you be­lieve) by Shake­speare’s ex­tended med­i­ta­tions on king­ship in Henry V and the two parts of Henry IV. As I re­call, many fem­i­nists dis­liked the film at the time for exalting the idea of the pa­tri­archy, the obli­ga­tion of young males to as­sume their nat­u­ral’’ roles as lead­ers and all­wise guar­an­tors of the so­cial or­der.

Nor, for that mat­ter, were fem­i­nists too keen on Kramer vs Kramer (Sun­day, 4.20pm, 7Two), Robert Ben­ton’s Os­car-win­ning weepie about a New York cou­ple and their bat­tle for cus­tody of their young son. Meryl Streep plays the in­de­pen­dent woman who leaves her hus­band for no other rea­son than she wants to find her­self’’, still a fairly pro­gres­sive idea in 1979. And for much of the film Streep is cast as the vil­lain — self­ish, op­por­tunis­tic, un­car­ing — while our sym­pa­thies are with Dustin Hoff­man’s bravely cop­ing dad. But the film is more sub­tle than that; a court­room scene pro­vides sus­pense and the fi­nal mo­ments are deeply mov­ing.

(M) ★★★★✩ Satur­day, 9.30pm, SBS One

(G) ★★★ ✩ Satur­day, 6.30pm, Seven

(M) ★★★★✩ Sun­day, 4.20pm, 7Two

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