HOW TO BUILD A GIRL

★★★

ALMOST FULLY BUILT

ADELAIDE FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW
By Chris dos Santos
16th October 2020

Beanie Feldstein is one of the most exciting new talents in Hollywood, having made her film debut in 2016 with 'Bad Neighbours 2', but won over the world with last year's 'Booksmart'. Since then, we have all been awaiting her next move - and 'How to Build a Girl' is it.

Johanna Morigan (Feldstein) is a nerdy British teenager in the 90s. She doesn't have many friends, but talks to photos of her idols that she has hung up in her room, everyone from Cleopatra (Jameela Jamil, TV's 'The Good Place') to Jo March (Sharon Horgan, 'Game Night', 'Military Wives') and Maria von Trapp (Gemma Arterton, 'Their Finest', Netflix's 'Murder Mystery'). She is an aspiring writer, and when her family is in need of money, she is determined to find a job to help provide. She ends up writing reviews for a music magazine, 'D&ME', where she quickly becomes popular scathing critic. She also reinvents herself now, Dolly Wilde, with a new style, a meaner personality, and red fiery hair to match.

'HOW TO BUILD A GIRL' TRAILER

Feldstein is an infectious force; you can't help but fall in love with her both on and off-screen. 'How to Build a Girl' could have been a very bland, forgettable film without her in the lead role. However, the film itself fails to break through, it's a pretty average coming-of-age story, and while it has some quirks with her photos that come to life and its music and costuming, there isn't much to set it apart from other films in the genre. Feldstein also has to do a British accent and it's not the worst, but it feels like it fits more in a 'Saturday Night Live' parody of 'Oliver Twist' rather than a real character in a feature film.

The film just fails to breakthrough, it's a pretty average coming-of-age story, while it has some quirks with her photos that come to life and of course the music and costuming, there isn't much to set it apart of the genre.

The film is based on a book, which is a true story, and Caitlin Moran, who wrote her semi-autobiographical story, is involved in the film as an executive producer and co-writer. The story seems to be faithful to both her story and the novel, and I give the movie props for having her involved in the production.

'How to Build a Girl' is an engaging yet average film, but will perhaps disappoint those hoping for something more from Feldstein's next move.

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