Johanna Morrigan (Beanie Feldstein) is a sixteen year old girl growing up in working class Wolverhampton. Desperately seeking something to break her free of the shackles holding her she realises that it isn’t about finding a boy it is about finding a girl, herself. When she enters a competition to be a writer at a music magazine she recreates herself as Dolly Wilde and lives a rock star life of discovery for a short while before realising who she really is.
An elevator pitch for How To Build A Girl would probably be something like; “a feminist version of Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous with a massive dose of reality and the working class background of Blinded By The Light”. But to call it simply that would be a disservice. Crowe’s semi autobiographical tale of his life is a much more romanticised tale in comparison to Caitlin Moran’s screenplay adapting her own book. Johanna may get to live the life style of a rock star journalist for a while but has to decide whether losing her own voice and turning on her family is worth getting a head in the world of music journalism.
In her first leading role following the exceptional Booksmart Bernie Feldstein really has to carry this film and she does so with aplomb. Larger than life and believable both as a lost teenage girl and a confident brash journalist Feldstein carries the film well. Initially I didn’t think I could believe this American with a Wolverhampton accent but by the end of the film I was sold even with a few faltering steps.
The film is also filled with an array of great cameos and smaller roles. Paddy Considine is his usual brilliant self as the father with a heart of gold, Alfie Allen is a rock star who listens and Johanna’s wall of inspirational famous people allows us to see the likes of Lily Allen, Michael Sheen, Sue Perkins, Mel Giedroyc, Gemma Arterton, Lucy Punch, Sharon Horgan and Jameela Jamil.
Available now on Amazon Coky Giedroyc’s How To Build A Girl is worth your time.