However, this sequence isn’t a date; it’s an assignment. They talk her up, make her believe in herself, and give her the inspiration to write. Like Johanna’s guileless early criticism, when she could go to a Manic Street Preachers concert and declare rock reborn, “How to Build a Girl” is so infatuated with her exuberant point-of-view that Moran struggles to make us see she’s also a fool. It's hard to find new ways to bring the coming-of-age story to life because it's a formula we have seen time-and-time again, but the charming "How to Build a Girl" certainly tries to make it fresh. Supporting characters played by Chris O'Dowd, Emma Thompson and Paddy Considine, who plays Johanna’s dad, give Feldstein the chance to show a range of awkward reactions and interactions. Johanna dreams of being a poet and puppyishly writes reams of her ’memoirs’ for her put-upon English teacher (Joanna Scanlon), but she mainly wants to leave this town behind and find her future self – fast. Coky Giedroyc’s “How to Build a Girl,” penned by Moran and based on her semi-autobiographical best-selling memoir of the same name, doesn’t even reference that story. © Copyright 2020 Variety Media, LLC, a subsidiary of Penske Business Media, LLC. 'The Masked Singer' Reveals the Identity of the Snow Owls: Here's the Duo Under the Masks, ‘SNL’ Writer Steve Higgins Remembers ‘Celebrity Jeopardy!’ Origin and Pays Tribute to Alex Trebek, MTV and Nick Cannon Inch Closer to ‘Wild ‘N Out’ Revival, Emily Blunt and Jamie Dornan Have an Irish Romance in 'Wild Mountain Thyme' Trailer, Jeffrey Toobin Fired by The New Yorker Following Zoom Call Incident, 'Emily in Paris' Renewed for Season 2 at Netflix, Struggling AMC Chain Launches Private Theatre Rentals Program. ‘How To Build A Girl’: Review By Fionnuala Halligan, Chief Film Critic 2019-09-07T08:00:00+01:00 Beanie Feldstein stars in the big-screen adaptation of Caitlin Moran’s book. Teen horror ‘Shortcut’ proved a box office hit in the US. Fans of feelgood British romcom will respond - although they may be feeling a little tapped-up at the moment - and a life-affirming feisty female is always welcome, especially one whose transition to adulthood is this rocky. At her worst, Johanna dons a wedding train and drunkenly accepts an award for Asshole of the Year. Through her active imagination, Johanna solicits advice from the moving subjects in the photos. As Moran, here going by both the alias Johanna Morrigan and her pen name Dolly Wilde, today’s go-to cannonball Beanie Feldstein rampages through high school hallways and nightclubs like she’s terrified that if she stops moving, she’ll be stuck. Soz!”. Directing with a safe, steady and often uninspired hand, Coky Giedroyc sets the film in deprived early-90s Wolverhampton - the UK’s midlands – although there’s very little real sense of urgency to the financially challenging situation the central family finds itself in. Can These Execs Save ViacomCBS’ Storied Cable Brands? When the mood changes, our heroine never seems in any real danger, apart from bad hair dye and a too-tight bustier. Fake it till you make it, Moran seems to say. The final product feels like if the greatest musician in the world tried to write a classic in 15 minutes. Playing a literary-minded lass from a Wolverhampton council estate (one that looks eerily similar to that in Blinded By The Light), Feldstein’s soft good cheer mirrors the film’s overall tone – soft, cheerful, perhaps lacking the edge that might send it into more compelling Diary Of A Teenage Girl territory despite mildly racy content which may still attract a 12 rating. Beanie Feldstein takes down the cool kids in a brisk British comedy inspired by '90s rock critic Caitlin Moran, Caitlin Moran’s career kicked off like a power chord. Johanna lives on hand-me-downs, she is badly dressed, over weight and tends to talk too much and is not happy how her teenage life is working out. Moran’s story, which she also adapted for the screen, shares a number of details with her own life, like a set of hippie parents, growing up with many siblings in Wolverhampton and starting her career as a young music journalist. Yet, “How to a Build a Girl” dares to argue that reinventing yourself doesn’t make you a poseur – the lowest of all insults, especially in the mid-’90s, when the film is set. At 17, the rock critic prodigy who’d grown up broke in a Wolverhampton council flat with four brothers and her parents’ illegal puppy mill was being flown to America for an all-night slumber party with Courtney Love. Feldstein plays Johanna such like a cartoon princess that it seems natural when the magazine clippings on her wall come to life to give her advice. This film adaptation of Caitlin Moran semi-autobiographical 2014 novel How To Build a Girl, about a teen rock critic who learns to … Yet, the film’s giggles nearly eclipse Moran’s larger point, which is, as she put it in an interview, “to stop women going out with f–king asshats.” Still, it’s lovely to see how cinematographer Hubert Taczanowski captures the emotions of Johanna’s first serious crush. Perhaps that argument matters less in an era when selling out as an influencer is the goal. As Johanna finds more success, her outfits evolve from baby show punk to an outfit worthy for an audition for “The Greatest Showman”—what a teen girl may think it takes to stand out, be cool and to fit into the boy’s club. Johanna Morrigan (Beanie Feldstein) is one such lucky dreamer in Coky Giedroyc’s adaptation of Caitlin Moran’s bestseller “How to Build a Girl.” Although she starts out a painfully shy loner who fantasizes about writing professionally, Johanna finds a niche for herself as an upstart rock critic shaking up the boy’s club of a music magazine in early ‘90s London. Paddy Considine plays Johanna’s father as a well-meaning but essentially feckless charmer (with remarkably good teeth) who is coping with a depressed wife after the late-in-life arrival of twins. We may be used to seeing Feldstein play the best friend in “Lady Bird” or “Booksmart,” but in “How to Build a Girl,” she’s proving that she can carry a movie by herself. Romantic, yes. It’s a young person’s jam that will hit the right teen like a thunderbolt. Coky Giedroyc directs with a safe, steady and sometimes uninspired hand. Press coverage will be extensive there as a result. She almost looks as if she could be Johanna’s older sister rather than her mom. Yet, Johanna needs approval. But once the plot gets Johanna past losing her virginity, she also can’t wait to connect with a foot fetishist just for the adventure. Scenes end with door slams, major details rush by in a blur and some gags are cranked up way past 11, like when Johanna rhapsodizes about “the impact of a great book” as bullies throw one at her head. Two weeks after her article ran, Kurt Cobain killed himself. Johanna believes in a world beyond her school commute and that there will be love and adventure just outside her humble home. ‘Jeopardy!’: Who Could Possibly Replace Alex Trebek? As they walk down the sidewalk, they’re tailed by a spotlight that seems to hope the pair will burst into song. International sales: Protagonist Pictures (US sales: Endeavor Content), Main cast: Beanie Feldstein, Alfie Allen, Paddy Considine, Chris O’Dowd, Emma Thompson. It’s charming and sweet, and even in its more serious moments, the movie never loses its sense of humor. REVIEW: HOW TO BUILD A GIRL, in some ways, plays out like a gender-flipped version of Cameron Crowe’s ALMOST FAMOUS, albeit set in Brit-pop era England with a … As she journeys toward self-realization, Johanna Morrigan (Beanie Feldstein) is thrown into a world more mature than her years. The film’s fairy-tale first half is magical. Unfortunately this is one of the movie's few flat notes, a cliche idea in an otherwise refreshing story. Beanie Feldstein stars in the big-screen adaptation of Caitlin Moran’s book. Feldstein’s accent may not always be on-point, but her acting sure is. Giedroyc’s portrait of young female sexuality is refreshingly cheeky. 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Caitin Moran’s semi-autobiographical coming-of-age novel is set in the heyday of '90s music journalism. The film hits the high notes of what it feels like to write passionately into late-night hours and the thrill of a writer’s first printed byline, as well as the lows of making rookie mistakes and feeling like a failure. Some lucky few achieve their impossible dreams well ahead of schedule—if there’s even such a thing as a schedule for success. Set on escape from her small-town life, Johanna will heartlessly dump them all when her rock critic career takes off and she finds herself a new persona in the buxom shape of Dolly Wilde, pop music’s Queen of Mean. While Johanna dreams of Jane Austen novels and a room of her own, her mother seems to have given up on life. Booksmart’s Beanie Feldstein has never been so endearing – and that’s saying something – as in the big-screen adaptation of Caitlin Moran’s feminist-tinged memoir How To Build A Girl, adapted by the author herself. (She’s better off listening to Julie Andrews than Sylvia Plath.) Variety and the Flying V logos are trademarks of Variety Media, LLC. There is more in “How to Build a Girl” that works than doesn’t. She’s crazy about life, and crazy about boys; she doodles portraits of Mr. Darcy and hallucinates hunks outside her window flexing in Speedos. With neither parent available to her, Johanna turns to the wall art collage of famous figures, philosophers and authors played by Gemma Arterton, Michael Sheen, Jameela Jamil, Lucy Punch, and Lily Allen, to name a few.
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