Meewella | Critic

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Tag: Molly Manning Walker

QuickView: How To Have Sex (2023)

“No one cares if you’re a virgin, it’s very chill.”


British cinematographer Molly Manning Walker (who shot this year’s Scrapper) makes her directorial debut with How To Have Sex, which follows three teenage girls on a holiday of self-discovery in Malia. Although it embarks from the teenage urgency to get laid, this is a far cry from 80s sex comedies — Walker’s script uses the subject to explore wider experiences of adolescence like inadequacy, jealousy and shame. Tara’s virginity is a parallel for her lack of experience and academic prowess compared to her friends, a barrier to honesty despite their closeness. Mia McKenna-Bruce’s performance is superb, taking Tara from grating in the opening moments to deeply sympathetic over the course of the film. The camera focuses on faces, capturing looks that reveal the purpose behind words spoken by the characters. The nights out jump between scenes like fragmented drunken memories, capturing familiar experiences like the isolation one can feel from friends and the panic of the noise and crowd when separated. Meanwhile, shots of the desolate, litter-strewn streets in the morning seem to be a quiet indictment of “Brits abroad”. Walker has created something accessible (and relevant) to any gender but the power of How To Have Sex lies in its female perspective.


QuickView: Scrapper (2023)

“Now that I know you, I can’t really not know you.”


A feature debut from a British writer-director about an estranged father-daughter relationship, Scrapper bears considerable similarity on paper to last year’s sublime Aftersun (both directors are even named Charlotte!) but tonally they are far removed. Charlotte Regan expressly sought to make a working class film that was not “desaturated and sad”, which may sound strange for a film that opens with a 12-year-old conspiring against social services to live alone after the death of her mother but it is handled deftly in a manner at once tender and funny, like Georgie crossing off stages of grief on her wall (“I think I’m nearly finished” she naïvely tells a friend). Regan’s voice has much in common with Georgie which elevates her writing above middle class perceptions of working class interaction, and she coaxes wonderfully fresh performances from two newcomer child actors — Lola Campbell in particular commands the screen as she brings vulnerability to the resourceful and mouthy Georgie. Though Regan may describe it as “coming of age in reverse”, Scrapper is covering very well-trodden ground once Georgie’s father, who abandoned his responsibilities, returns to find an uninterested daughter. Harris Dickinson is nevertheless effective in the role, displaying concern and self-doubt at this new role and the judgment he faces from the community. We see parallel flashes of anger in both performances as the characters resist the fundamental shifts to their lives. The film’s bold visual presentation is at times natural like the leads dancing in an abandoned warehouse filled with light, and at times artificial like the street of terraced houses they painted in bright colours or a recurring joke with subtitled spiders. Whilst this unusual cinematic portrayal of working class life is arresting, Scrapper is still at its best in quiet moments of father-daughter bonding, with an improvisational quality to scenes like simply killing time on a train platform. With little new to say beyond its perspective, ultimately it is Regan’s voice as a writer and director — in contrast to a privileged voice observing from the outside — that elevates Scrapper and leaves me in anticipation of what she may do next.


"A film is a petrified fountain of thought."

(CC) BY-NC 2003-2023 Priyan Meewella

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