“Coming into Sundance, we had a feeling the coming-of-age dramedy An Education would probably be pretty good,” Defamer‘s Stu Van Airsdale wrote yesterday afternoon. “But as 282 lucky ticketholders at Sunday’s premiere soon discovered, ‘good’ isn’t the half of it.

An Education all but blew the marquee off the Egyptian Theater, where over 100 latecomers were turned away onto a swarming Main Street before director Lone Scherfig nervously announced not even she had yet seen her film outside the lab. She had nothing to worry about:

“Led by 23-year-old Carey Mulligan in a breakthrough that makes Ellen Page‘s Juno turn look like a Lifetime reject, Scherfig’s ensemble cast wrings a spry, otherworldly beauty from Nick Hornby‘s script and its corrosive glare at early ’60s London. We have no idea if it’s the festival’s best film, as some have said, but if there is a likelier candidate for life beyond Park City — as in awards-season, even canonical immortality — let’s have it.”