Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Powder Room (2013)

Based on Rachel Hirons' hit stageplay When Women Wee, Powder Room the debut of female director MJ Delaney, is an authentic and fresh film about female status anxiety explored over the course of one chaotic and calamitous night for two groups of twentysomething girls at a Croyden nightclub, with much of the action taking place in the titular ladies loos.

A fine ensemble of young female talent including Sheridan Smith, Jaime Winstone, Oona Chaplin and singer Kate Nash invest much into the realistic earthy dialogue and funny scenarios that will chime with any female nightclub goer, and indeed clubbers in general.  We'll all know a shitty club like this, the kind of club that is the only option in a modern day British urban town if you want to have fun after a certain time of night, and we'll all recall nights like this in some small way.

The heart of the film is Smith's character, a woman whose night out finds herself torn between two groups; Winstone's more loutish, girls-just-wanna-have-fun mob whom she works with, and old friends Chaplin and Nash who, having found some success in new media circles, are perhaps more obnoxious - albeit for different, distinctly snobbish reasons. The crux of the film ultimately concerns the lies Sheridan's character spouts to keep her circle of friends apart and why she feels she has to present herself differently in the first place - a situation I expect we've all found ourselves in in one form or another.

Flashy direction from Delaney helps to open out the film from the trappings of its stage origins, but its just decoration (though admittedly a visually pleasing one at that) and the real meat is to be had in the dialogue. Granted, if we're to compare it to what has gone before, well it's not Andrea Dunbar quality writing, but it's a far better representation of a generation of working class girls than something that ITV2, BBC3 or E4  churn out with alarming regularity, and it is at least one that is singularly being told by that gender, which should be applauded not derided like some reviews have been keen to do. Receiving its TV premiere on Sky Movies this week alongside Matt Whitecross' delightful ode to Stone Roses fandom, Spike Island, it's somewhat promising to see such aspects of British youth culture being depicted with a degree of unique parochial identity, charm and panache (other recent films like Svengali also fit such a category)  and whilst its clear they'll never trouble BAFTA I don't think that spoils the overall enjoyment to be had from this fare. Who knows , Powder Room and its contemporaries may become something of a sleeper cult in a few years time.

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