Saturday, February 17, 2024

How To Have Sex




 How To Have Sex – movie by Molly Manning Walker.  
Canberra Palace Electric Movie Club previews February 17, 18, 25, 27; Dendy Sunday Session Preview February 25. Release date: 7 March 2024

Reviewed by Frank McKone
February 17

Directed by Molly Manning Walker; Written by Molly Manning Walker
Produced by Emily Leo, Ivana MacKinnon, Konstantinos Kontovrakis

    Mia McKenna-Bruce
    Lara Peake
    Samuel Bottomley
    Shaun Thomas
    Enva Lewis
    Laura Ambler

Cinematography: Nicolas Canniccioni; Edited by Fin Oates; Music by James Jacob
Production companies:
Film4, BFI, MK2 Films, Head Gear Films, Metrol Technology, Umedia
Wild Swim Films, Heretic
Distributed by    Mubi
Release dates 19 May 2023 (Cannes), 3 November 2023 (United Kingdom)
7 March 2024 (Australia)
Running time 91 minutes
Countries: United Kingdom, Greece, Belgium
Language: English

Sixteen-year-old best friends Tara, Em, and Skye head to the party resort of Malia on the Greek island of Crete for a rites-of-passage holiday. While Em will be off to college in the autumn, Tara and Skye are less certain of their futures. The girls all look forward to drinking, clubbing, and hooking up in what should be the best summer of their lives. Tara, the only virgin in the trio, feels pressure to match the sexual experiences of her friends.

Mia McKenna-Bruce in How To Have Sex. Photograph: Mubi

This is the movie that needs to be shown at the very beginning of Schoolies Week, Saturday morning November 16, 2024. To every participant, and perhaps again every day.

I suspect the Gold Coast venues may not be quite as over-the-top as in, what Anthony Frajman in The Saturday Paper calls “the holiday hotspot town of Malia, Crete”.  If it is, it’s thumping loud, frantic, and openly about getting laid – equally aimed for by girls as by boys.  I don’t remember it being quite like this when I was their age some 67 years ago.  The Modern Jazz Quartet, which my father called jazz on tiptoes, was more my thing.

The essence of the movie is an awful sense of foreboding as Tara begins to realise that this is not all fun and nervous laughter, when the raucous mcee has two boys up on stage holding drink cans out like their penises, and girls come up to have ‘pee’ poured down their throats.  Gross is just not the word for it.  And it gets worse, which I will not try to describe.

Can Tara escape and not become the centre of attention?  Apprehension and dread are strong synonyms for foreboding.  I felt all of that with her.  And her mental and emotional confusion when she is given no choice, losing so much more than just her naivety.

The flight home to London is not an easy ride.  Molly Manning Walker tells Frajman (The Saturday Paper, February 17-23, 2024) How To Have Sex is ‘partly drawn from [her] holidays in Majorca and Ibiza as a teenager and in her 20s, but it also reflects her experience of being sexually assaulted in London on a night out when she was 16.  Echoing the frankness of How To Have Sex, she speaks about her assault with incredible candour. “No one talks about it,” she tells me.  “And when [an assault] happens, it sucks the air out the room and you can’t talk about it openly, and as a victim, it makes you feel even more shame and even more guilty about it because you’re like, ‘Maybe it’s my fault.  Maybe they don’t want me to talk about it.’”

As Tara begins, just a little, on her way home, to laugh like her friends again, I knew she was covering up, pretending it’s ok enough to not completely lose her social life.

And I knew what the issue of ‘consent’ is really about.  And I thank the writer/director of How To Have Sex, and the actors who make the story so real.

And hope the movie is seen widely, and definitely at the next Schoolies Week, where it might be renamed “How To Have Sex, Not