Big Girl


Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

Big Girl
"Feels real, honest, open, compelling."

I have three younger sisters, and while from that I could probably claim some special awareness of the awkwardness of puberty and adolescence and that whole 'coming of age' thing I would be lying. I know that it's difficult, and confusing, and sometimes you get to make choices you don't even realise are choices until you're presented with consequences that are only forseeable in hindsight, like Schroedinger's Cat but with underage drinking, but I won't pretend that my own experiences translate across gender lines, nor that proximity allows me anything other than a tentative understanding of something that's always going to be private, personal, bound up in a whole set of cultural and familial expectations.

Even with that tentative understanding this is convincing, authentic - it may be quasi-autobiographical, it may be whole-cloth fiction, it doesn't matter - it feels real, honest, open, compelling.

Gemma and Hannah are at 'that difficult age', circling adulthood, each other. There's blood in the water, foreboding, but there's lots going on, not just below the surface.

Two fantastic performances, Jodie Comer and Letitia Wright as Gemma and Hannah, dealing with their families - especially their mothers - and all the other bits of balancing. There's race, class, religion, sexuality, gender politics, self, face, but presented organically, cleanly, aspects of character rather than boxes ticked.

Similarly walking a difficult line are writer E.V. Crowe and director Leanne Welham. The 'Coming Up' scheme gives writers and directors early in their career the chance to play with Channel 4's film-making trainset, access to quality casts, technical expertise, all the bits and bobs behind the scenes apart from those two oft-neglected bits of movie magic: what's going to happen, and how we'll see it.

What happens is excellent, and the talent is readily visible. Convincing in its blend of scope and scale and tone and timing, Crowe's script is lovely. Welham's direction highlights the nuances of some great performances and the subtleties of the story to create something very good.

There's a lot going on, and for all that there are elements that could and may well result in an "affected by the issues in this programme" helpline at the end that's not to say that this feels heavy-handed. Far from it. It is not by coincidence that I have used words like "nuance" or "subtlety" or "depth", nor that I feel this to be finely crafted, well-executed. At one point Hannah tells Gemma that "It's supposed to be special", and Big Girl is.

Reviewed on: 15 Jul 2013
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A reunion between friends leads to awkward revelations.

Director: Leanne Welham

Writer: EV Crowe

Starring: Charley Palmer Merkell, Diveen Henry, Gary Oliver, Harry Sadeghi, Jodie Comer, Letitia Wright, Ruth Gemmell

Year: 2013

Runtime: 15 minutes

Country: UK


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