The Power of Reinvention: How to Build a Girl

Beanie Feldstein in How to Build a Girl

How to Build a Girl

Directed By: Coky Giedroyc

Oh my Gosh! Mel and Sue (from early season of the Great British Bake-Off) cameoed as the Brontë sisters and I didn’t even recognize them until I read it on IMBD!

And then I saw Lily Allen cameoed as honestly a distractingly bad Elizabeth Taylor -even in a picture- and thought okay that makes some sense.

The cameos are all on sixteen-year old school nerd Johanna Morgan’s wall of Gods who talk to her and give her advice on her way to becoming a wildly popular young rock critic who winds up supporting her large family all the while as she puts it, “going to the dark side.”

Beanie Feldstein in How to Build a Girl

If you suffer from second hand embarrassment there’s a few scenes at the beginning of the film that will make you cringe. I must say though this movie lived on Beanie Feldstein who completely went for broke on this one and was believable as the high school nerd and the living on the edge rock critic having the time of her life.

It was also interesting that she worked really well with the age thing. She’s sixteen throughout but you can also during her dark times see her as a twenty or thirty something writer. Also the 16 year old thing gets a little cringe worthy with the sex scenes especially when you think about the fact the guys are all a good deal older than her.

Dolly Wilde headlines in How to Build a Girl

I am a sucker for anything about writing and more than interested in the critic world so by far the most interesting part was when wide-eyed in love with the world Johanna nearly loses the job she desperately needs over a sweet interview with an up and coming singer (the wonderful Alfie Allen) she’s told in no uncertain terms that the critics are the “gatekeepers” and she’s not meant to love and support everything but go for the neck and take down the weakest.

Dolly takes that to heart and essentially becomes a critic monster not just talking about the art but also looks, acts and at one point suggesting suicide. A nasty streak that eventually leads to her turning on her family and her friendship with Allen’s character.

It is in that way a movie about the power of negativity mixed in with finding yourself while living under harsh circumstances as well as reinvention.

Alfie Allen and Beanie Feldstein

The negativity angle was most interesting to me because even blogging I often see streaks of posts about how people ‘don’t trust anyone that doesn’t do negative reviews,’ or they look for the negative reviews first and it seems a little kept secret that negative reviews tend to get the most interest.

I definitely think there’s a larger point there. I mean Johanna’s interview probably no one would have taken seriously as she wrote it but still I found unpleasantly believable the outsized popularity the more of a bitch she became.

Negative thoughts on the film…

Lots of unlikable side characters and Johanna there for quite a stretch. Allen isn’t in this nearly enough considering he’s about the only gentleman in the film. Plus I felt the end was a bit too quick of a turn around and disliked the talking directly to the camera. And while cutesy for a minute or two I don’t think the wall of Gods really worked.

But overall the performances and the writing subject matter got me past the weak spots.

Recommend: Yes.