Opening 7 Aug 2008
Writing credits: Piers Ashworth, Jamie Minoprio, Nick Moorcroft, Ronald Searle, Jonathan M. Stern
Principal actors: Rupert Everett, Colin Firth, Jodie Whittaker, Russell Brand
Carnaby Fritton enrolls his daughter Annabelle in St. Trinian’s girl school. He hopes that tuition will be low since his sister, Camilla, is the headmistress. He is surprised to hear that the school is 500,000 pounds in debt to be paid within four weeks. To add to the problems, the Minister of Education Geoffrey Thwaites (Colin Firth) wishes to close the school permanently. Annabelle has a difficult start. The girls are incorrigible and violent and organized into various cliques of Gothics, brains, blond bimbos, Trustees’ offspring, etc. The students make blindness-inducing gin in an illegal still in the school’s garage under the tutelage of Flash Harry (Russell Brand). The ambience could be straight from the Rocky Horror Show. However, once the seriousness of the situation is clear, they unite under the leadership of student council president Kelly. In order to pay the debt, they steal and sell “The Girl with the Pearl Earring” painting from the National Gallery, under cover of a competition called School Challenge (which they also win).
Rupert Everett obviously had loads of fun playing a double role as school director Camilla and her tight-wad brother Carnaby. Let’s see more of Russell Brand; it’s time he got some real leading roles. There is a positive ending and even a teeny moral: it’s cool and sexy to be smart. Otherwise, the high-jinks are good for momentary fun. The history of origin is interesting. St. Trinians was originally a well-loved comic strip by Ronald Searle, first published in England in 1941. His cartoons of gin-swigging, cigar-smoking, out-of-control girls in school uniforms became part of the national culture around 1945 and carried on for two more decades. Films about the girls first appeared in the 1950s and this newest addition simply carries on a long tradition, well-known in Great Britain. (Becky Tan)