REVIEW: How to Build a Girl

How to Build a Girl

A Beanie Feldstein led coming of age film centered around her love of music? It should be a perfect film for me, but after seeing the trailer a few months back, I was concerned. With some trepidation I clicked play on Amazon Prime this weekend. I’m not even sure how I made it to the end of the film as at 17 minutes I was reaching for the remote. Here are just a handful of the notes I wrote during the film:

This is bad.
Accents are dire.
What a waste of talent.

The problem with the film stems from an appalling script which is both unfunny and unrealistic – not what you want for this genre of film.

An adaptation of Caitlin Moran’s 2014 semi-autobiographical novel by the same name, we follow Johanna Morrigan as she rises to fame as an aspiring teen music journalist. She’s quirky, and different and adorably naïve but still up for a good fuck. It’s a mixed tone that leaves her character feeling completely unbelievable. When there is a big reveal that the people she has trusted aren’t trustworthy and she has her teen movie speech, we can’t feel sorry for her as she’s not a likeable person. We’ve been given no reason to think she doesn’t deserve it, she’s become vile.

How to Build a Girl Review

It missed the ‘maybe I was plastic’ from Mean Girls, the ‘everyone hates me’ from Angus, Thongs and Perfect kissing, even the more mature elements of a teen out of her element in ‘Diary of a Teenage Girl.’ There is no self-reflection, no internal conflict. She has no life, gets a life, becomes vapid and horrible, stops being vapid and horrible, the end. Her character, and the films plot on the whole is too earnest to be for a mature viewer but too adult to be for a younger target audience. Whilst this does reflect the internal struggles our lead is going through; it’s poorly executed and falls flat.

A more developed storyline with her brother or looking at the betrayal element with Alfie Allen’s John Kite could have been interesting but they’re both lost in unexplored shallow tides and mixed in with trashy jokes and ping ponging narrative threads.

There is also a self harm plot point randomly thrown in at the last minute and immediately turned in to a joke. It begs the question, what tone were they going for? I can’t answer this for them, but they achieved was desperate, painful and cringe inducing.

Poor Beanie, she deserved far better.

How to Build a Girl (2019) Comedy | 1h 42min | 8 May 2020 (USA) 5.7
Director: Coky GiedroycWriters: Caitlin MoranStars: Beanie Feldstein, Cleo, Dónal FinnSummary: The novel charts the journey of teenager Johanna Morrigan (Beanie Feldstein), who reinvents herself as Dolly Wilde: fast-talking, lady sex-adventurer, moves to London, and gets a job as music critic in the hope of saving her poverty stricken family in Wolverhampton. Written by variety

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Clare Brunton

Ex film teacher and frequent couch potato. I try and see at least one new release a week, but I've somehow got to 30 without having seen The Godfather?