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  • Colin Fraser


FOUR STARS Three best friends head to Crete for the best summer ever: clubbing, drinking, getting laid.


Starring Mia McKenna-Bruce, Lara Peake

HOW TO HAVE SEX might sound like a T&A film from the 1970s (Carry On Bonking perhaps) but the reality is much starker, much grittier and much, much less frivolous. Despite the apparent topic (kids out of control), it demands a great deal of its audience as it dissects teenage relationships on a party island in Crete.

Tara, Skye and Em are three BFFs from Britain. In between high-school and college, the girls are on a package holiday with the simple objectives of going clubbing, getting drunk and getting laid. It’s going to be the best summer of their young lives. Fortunately a couple of northern lads are in the room next door and are more than happy to help them with their holiday plans, especially Tara who has a third, secret, objective - losing her virginity. She strikes up a cautious romance with likeable Badger but his roommate Paddy turns out to be the wild card.

This is a searingly honest portrait of Euro resorts like Zante, Hvar or the grandaddy of club magnets Ibiza - where people get pissed, party, pass out and repeat until the plane takes them home again. Cretan culture has no part to play in this closed-circuit where Tara and her mates shriek and shout in the ‘safe’ company of other Brits shrieking, shouting, drinking and clubbing. But that is just so much backdrop.

What makes HOW TO HAVE SEX so good, so compelling, is the central performance of Mia McKenna-Bruce. She’s devastating as Tara, a young woman who quickly and definitively gets out of her depth despite the unwavering support of her friends. Although hers is a story that happens over and again, night after night in every resort everywhere, she and filmmaker Molly Manning Walker breath fresh vitality into the heart wrenchingly predictable events that unfold.

For better or worse (depending on your age, mostly worse), Walker seeks to drop us right in the middle of the holiday - baking heat by day, pounding music by night, the pre-party excitement, the post-party hangover. You certainly wouldn’t want these kids in the room next to you - not even on the same island come to think of it - yet here we are, part of the fun and games.

And there is an infectious joy that spills from their enthusiasm, that is until Tara’s journey takes a dark turn, one that plays out with inevitability every night everywhere. It’s confronting, painful yet surprisingly funny and, strangely, cathartic. There’s a brutal honesty about the narrative that’s amplified by Walker’s visual skill and McKenna-Bruce’s command of the camera. It lands like a punch to the gut that only the hardest hearts would dismiss. And maybe in the telling, their film will help equip others not to stumble where Tara fell.



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