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Film Review: How To Have Sex
by Pat Frickey

Molly Manning Walker, UK, Greece 2023

This is a British version of a spring break film. Rather than flocking to the beaches of Cancun or Fort Lauderdale these sixteen-year-old besties fly to the party town of Malia in Crete in the searing summer sun. They are determined to have the “best holiday ever” drinking, dancing, and hooking up, to celebrate the completion of their GCSE exams, vowing, no matter what, to stay friends forever. Taz (Mia McKenna-Bruce) is the sweet, vulnerable ingénue eager to lose her virginity. Skye (Lara Peake) has been there, done that, and looking to do it again. Experienced Em (Enva Lewis) joins in the fun, but she is the studious one, and seems distracted waiting to hear about her exam results. Next door in the hotel are two slightly older, usually-inebriated revelers. Badger (Shaun Thomas) is a nice guy, a little clumsy, and clearly enamored with Taz. Paddy (Samuel Bottomley) is the hunky player who can and does have anyone he wants.

The girls set out in scanty outfits joining Malia’s frenetic club scene, filled with booze, pulsating dance music, hedonism, fluorescent face glitter, pills, vomiting, and more booze. Director-writer Molly Manning Walker, only twenty-nine herself, shines a light on these teenagers’ rite of passage in this island party scene. The brightest light shines on actress Mia McKenna-Bruce as Taz. For a girl seeking a thrilling “first time,” consent gets lost in a hazy blur. Watch as Taz goes from exuberance to disillusionment to forced enthusiasm, all while drunk or with a hangover. This was supposed to be fun!

HOW TO HAVE SEX was the winner of The Arthouse Cinema Award at Filmfest Hamburg and winner in the Un Certain Regard section at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. (Molly Manning Walker is also the cinematographer of the film GEORGIE presented at the MICHEL Kinder und Jugend Filmfest 2023.)