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Film Review: Perfect 10
by Pat Frickey

Michel Kinder und Jugend Filmfest Hamburg

The children’s festival this year showed four feature films including two for online screening, PERFECT 10 and MEINE FAMILIE UND DER WOLF. The youngest filmgoers were treated to five animated films dubbed Reihe für Minis. These, too, could be streamed online.

Eva Riley, UK 2019

As if being a teenager isn’t difficult enough. Fourteen-year-old Leigh (Frankie Box) is just barely surviving when we first see her in a trance hanging upside down from the horizontal bars in the local gym. Her concerned coach Gemma (Sharlene Whyte) offers her encouragement, but in the locker room the mean girls on the team call her a charity case while mocking her threadbare underpants showing under her leotard. The talented gymnast had been promoted to the competition squad, but she is going under. Leigh is living a squalid existence on the outskirts of Brighton wondering where she is going to get the money to go to the local championships. Little by little we discover her mother is gone and her dad is barely visible.

Out of nowhere a stranger comes to her house and announces he is the older brother Joe (Alfie Deegan) she didn’t know she had. Dad had forgotten to mention him. Joe is brash, daring, and clearly walks on the wild side. Joe has decided to get to know his father and give him a second chance, after having been neglected growing up. He moves in, but his father soon walks out on him. Joe joins a local gang of scooter thieves to earn his keep and to hang with. Reluctantly he lets Leigh tag along to his nighttime antics; she impresses the bad boys first with her backflips and then with her fierce recklessness. What has Joe gotten his little sister into? Joe has to struggle with the moral quandary of what it means to be a big brother and set boundaries for this lost girl. Always lurking under the surface is the suspicion that something absolutely disastrous is about to happen.

PERFECT 10 is a film title that hints at both the perfect score of a gymnast’s routine and impeccable, unattainable feminine beauty. Leigh is trapped in a world pressured to be perfect as she herself is drowning. Eva Riley has created an edgy film that will chip away at your heart.