Cert 15 Stars 3 AMAZON PRIME
A schoolgirl takes centre stage to smash glass ceilings in this spirited coming-of-age comedy drama based on journalist Caitlin Moran’s 2014 semi-autobiographical novel.
Combining a down-to-earth approach with moments of whimsical magical realism, it’s amiable and amusing but unlike it’s heroine Johanna only modestly ambitious, with the films success heavily dependent on the performances, particularly of its lead.
Beanie Feldstein plays little more than lip-service to the Black Country accent as she barrels her way through a performance as the working-class 16 year old Johanna, an aspiring journalist living with her struggling parents and four siblings in 1990s Wolverhampton.
As I’m the sixth of 8 working class kids from Middlesbrough, their noisy over-crowded house and the casual violent abuse outside school ring very true, as does Johanna finding out the London music industry is populated by condescending misogynist, sexist posh blokes of little discernible talent.
Her new job on a prestigious music magazine leads to a personal reinvention but success depends on her compromising her integrity, a huge step for the romantically-minded writer.
Instead of posters of pop stars on her bedroom wall Johanna has figures such as Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, Sylvia Plath and er Maria von Trapp, who come to life to offer advice. it’s a lovely idea but sadly hugely underplayed and far too little time is given to actors such as Michael Sheen, Gemma Arterton and Alexei Sayle.
Paddy Considine and Sarah Soleman give strong support and mixing with the impressive cast are cameos by Emma Thompson, Chris O’Dowd and Bob Mortimer.
Casting the American Feldstein in this very English film was presumably a commercial decision as we’re far from short of acting talent this side of the pond, but after appearing in teen movies such as 2017’s Oscar winning Lady Bird, and being Golden Globe nominated for 2019’s Booksmart, this another enjoyable turn in the construction of her impressive career.