WORTH A LOOK?: ****
OUT: Amazon Prime
Our story opens in 1990s Wolverhampton where 16-year-old Johanna Morrigan is an aspiring writer and dreams of escaping her council estate for a life in London.
- Read on for reasons including how Elastica and Manic Street Preachers feature
She sends a review of the Annie soundtrack to London-based rock magazine D&ME and is disappointed to learn that her invitation into the office is only to ridicule her.
The semi-autobiographical film is based on the 2014 coming-of-age novel by Times columnist Caitlin Moran and she has also written the screenplay.
Morrigan, played with an almost Midlands accent by Beanie Feldstein (who starred in last year’s monsta-winning Booksmart) begins work for the D&ME, interviews a sensitive rock star played by Alfie Allen who prizes the innocent enthusiasm within her and finds a soulmate in him.
Our heroine loses her job after submitting a glowing feature about him and vows instead to be destructive in her music criticism which initially goes down a storm on the D&ME.
This is a world monstagigz is familiar with as we worked on a title not dissimilar to D&ME and later interviewed bands and reviewed gigs for a city-based local newspaper.
What’s enjoyable about How To Build A Girl is that it uses key songs from the 90s – Elastica’s Connection soundtracks the opening lust-filled dream sequence and You Love Us by the Manic Street Preachers helps convince about the thrill of indie music and gigs to utterly lose yourself in, including a hilarious crowdsurfing scene.
Moran’s always had a way with words (Best line: ‘Losing the TV is tough, like when Beth dies in Little Women.’) and what’s reassuring about the plot is the message that it’s OK to reinvent yourself if you regret a life choice.
We follow Morrigan’s career trajectory to the point when she decides things must change when she is betrayed by a colleague/boyfriend (Frank Dillane giving us both dastardly and devilishly magnetic in eyeliner and painted blue fingernails) who describes her as ‘putting the pig into Pygmalion‘, another terrific if gut-punching line.
Elsewhere, there’s expert comic support from Solemani as Morrigan’s exhausted mum and Considine as her useless but optimistic father. Scanlan is always funny and especially here as an exasperated teacher and Thompson turns up to save the day at the point when it appears all may be lost.
Moran’s such a talented writer that you suspect she will go on to even greater things and Feldstein is so laugh-out-loud funny we hope this film is as successful as its heart is big.
- Pictures via Twitter courtesy How To Build A Girl Details
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