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how to have sex

★★★★

starring: mia mckenna-bruce, daisy jelley, lara peake, and samuel bottomley 

REVIEWER: nick tonkin

Three British teenage girls go on a rites-of-passage holiday - drinking, clubbing and hooking up, in what should be the best summer of their lives.

How to Have Sex is a coming-of-age drama written and directed by Molly Manning Walker in her feature debut. It is a powerful examination of the short period of time in a young person’s life where responsibility, consequences and the future are easily set aside in favour of fun, excitement and connection. 

 

Three friends Tara, Em and Skye have finished final exams, and in the time before results and university acceptances come through, they’ve taken off to a resort in Crete to spend their summer days clubbing, drinking and hooking up before the rest of their lives comes knocking.

 

How to Have Sex captures effectively, and without commentary, a reality of the freedom newly gained by young people entering adulthood and its potential to be abused. Mia McKenna-Bruce is excellent as Tara, a young woman swept up in the excitement for her newfound freedom, embarrassed by her sexual inexperience in contrast to her friends, and deeply concerned about her upcoming exam results and their effect on her future.

 

McKenna-Bruce imbues in Tara so well elements of hopefulness, youthful hedonism, and naivety that when they crash down upon Tara following a trauma, she is entirely believable in her expression of Tara’s reaction to it. A young person possibly wouldn’t have the tools to deal with something like this, which makes McKenna-Bruce’s Tara all that more believable and compelling a character.

 

How to Have Sex is an impressive debut from writer/director Molly Manning Walker in both how well realised it is as a film, and how effectively it presents adult life arriving too early for a young woman, driven home by an excellent lead performance from Mia McKenna-Bruce. 

★★★★

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