A new film telling the tale of three British girls coming-of-age trip to Malia dubbed ‘Trainspotting meets Skins’ is set to become a huge hit.
What is the most buzzed movie in 2023?
Hitting cinemas, the 15-rated feature film, made by Film 4, follows three British teenage girls who head on a trip to the resort on Crete while waiting for their GCSE results.
It’s won over critics for handling the pain and trauma that too often accompanies girlhood.
Despite a relatively unknown cast and a directorial debut for Molly Manning Walker, it picked up the Un Certain Regard section of this year’s Cannes Film Festival with an eight-minute standing ovation.
Snippet on ‘How to Have Sex’
A trip filled with partying, close friends, and the seaside should be one of their best yet – but things take a dark turn when uncomfortable truths, including sexual consent, are brought to the surface.
Beneath the surface of Manning’s glitzy accolades lies a more disturbing reality, given that the film is loosely autobiographical.
How to Have Sex is based upon a girl’s trip to Malia, where three best friends.
Tara (Mia McKenna-Bruce), Skye (Lara Peake) and Em (Enva Lewis) all plan to let loose at the holiday resort.Infamous for wild lads’ holidays, the island delivers its promise.
Picture neon parties, plenty of alcohol and drinking games. The girls embark on flirtatious hookups, and Tara hopes that she will lose her virginity.
Initially, the trip fulfils expectations, with the girls stumbling home in the early hours, recalling hilarious events while securing the greasiest food they can get their hands on.
Naturally, the girls meet a group of boys, with Paddy (played by Samuel Bottomley) and Badger (Shaun Thomas) initially becoming close pals.
Sex and alcohol consume the holiday, with the kids’ main priority being to get as messy as possible.
But the holiday that was once filled with carefree laughter and close friends drunkenly declaring their love for one another turns sour when Tara suffers a disconcerting sexual experience with Paddy.
Vote of opinions – is it a sexual assault?
Calling it a sexual assault isn’t clear cut- because Tara flirts with Paddy. While some viewers will consider it assault, others are likely to be confounded.
But that’s what Manning hoped to create.
In conversation with The Times, Manning said: ‘We did workshops around the UK where we interviewed young people about their concept of consent and gave them scenes from the film to read.
‘So many girls and boys were like, “She said yes, so that’s consent.” Or, “Well, she didn’t get out of the bed, so it’s not an assault.”
‘That made me really sad. We think there’s all this progression about young people and sex, but nothing has changed. In fact, it might be getting worse.’
In addition to grappling with themes of sexual assault, the film also depicts friendships and the toxicity they can involve, with sexual encounters taking precedence over the welfare of the group.
How this movie is different from regular experience of sexual assaults
But it was a different experience that has become all too common in the UK that helped shape Manning’s input on the film.
At the age of 16, Manning suffered sexual assault after her drink was spiked on a night out.
When she took the case to the police, they told her not to trouble herself with prosecuting, even though the assailant already had a criminal record.
In conversation with The Times, Manning said that the sexual predator eventually faced prison for a bank robbery, which made her question why he could be charged for that and not for hurting someone.
Feeling safe and assured was an essential component in the filming process, and Manning made sure that, during the filming of sex scenes, everyone was comfortable.
Open and frank discussion between shots helped this, along with an intimacy coordinator on set.
While the film has reached its short-term success of awards and praise from critics, Manning strives to get the film into schools to teach sex education.
‘We need to start talking about female pleasure, good sex and consent, empathy and understanding. It’s not about ”men are bad”.
‘The aim isn’t to lock boys out or point fingers. I just want to open a conversation about it,’ she said.