How To Build A Girl (2019)

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Food: Bread Pudding is supposedly a delicacy in Wolverhampton, England – the location of this film. I am not much of an expert on that, but I am excited to share a recipe for one of my favorite deserts ever – Banana Pudding. 

Mix 2 1/2 cups milk with box of 5,1 ounce Vanilla Pudding. Mix together. Let sit for 10 minutes. Fold in 8 ounce of Cool Whip. Grab a big bowl, and layer vanilla (Nilla) wafers, then sliced bananas, then pudding mixture, and continue until you run out, and have the pudding mix on the top. Put in refrigerator and leave for at least 5-6 hours, or overnight. Completely delicious.

Film: “How to Build A Girl” (2019) is based off the beloved fiction novel by author and journalist Caitlin Moran, written in 2014. It is semi-autobiographical, tailing a teenaged writer, Johanna Morrigan, growing up in a large working-class family on a council estate in Wolverhampton, England. As a means of developing her confidence, she revamps her look and creates an alter ego version of herself whom she calls Dolly Wilde. Dolly Wilde is a shameless, brutal music critic, with red hair and fish nets, who leaves scathing reviews in her wake, and cultivates a popularity from her hatred.

Beanie Feldstein is always a delight, but it is especially exciting to see her in a role that is so delicious, scandalous, flamboyant and comedic. Not to mention, she works a small-town English accent impressively well. As Dolly Wilde ventures on her first big write up for the local paper, she flies to Dublin to interview upcoming singer/songwriter John Kite (Alfie Allen at his most charming). The two become fast friends, as he lovingly shows her around the city, and they speak candidly about past traumas and hardships.

Most of the film is Johanna/Dolly wrestling with who she feels that she is at her core, and who she feels like she needs to be in order to be successful in the career she wants. It allows viewers to passively observe the frustrations women experience while trying to be taken seriously in male dominated industries, the obstacles that social class can present for a person trying to navigate out of that world, and a coming-of-age tale of women exploring the differences between sexuality and love. There are times when the film takes leaps and bounds with the tone of the story, and that can feel slightly jarring. She has a wall of heroes that act as her closest confidants (and talk back!) and we are also presented with a montage of her self-told “sexcapades.” Overall, though, it manages not to feel too silly. It was reminiscent of the 2015 film “Diary of a Teenage Girl” – perhaps not quite as good, but close – which is also based on an autobiographical novel.

“How To Build A Girl” is a flashy and funny film to watch, with a lot of sweetness at it’s center. It is a touching reminder that being positive and “sunshiney” and warm, should not be the mark of lack of experience or naivety. There are also excellent surrounding performances by Sarah Solemani, Paddy Considine, and Emma Thompson. Not to mention, Alfie Allen gives a resounding performance singing in a bar.

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