How to Build a Girl: Book vs Film review
I first read Caitlin Moran's How to Build a Girl when I was book-less and scanning for a lunchtime read at work (library perks.) The first page took me aback a bit, but I kept reading and discovered a book and an author that I really loved. It was weird and rambling in places, yes. The crudeness will not be for everyone. But it had a lot of heart and spoke to me about feminism and class and teenage girls in a way I've not felt from a book in a long time. It also made me laugh out loud.
Moran also wrote the film's screenplay (it's now available on Amazon Prime) and I definitely enjoyed it. It captures the humour of the book and a lot of the spirit, but I do think there is something missing? They got a lot right though. I was worried that Joanna's house would look either massive and unrealistic or too grimy and depressing. That the family would be played for the wrong sort of comedy or else portrayed as a grim alternative to her flashy London life. But I think they got the balance right. I thought her mum's post natal depression was conveyed well and although the relationship between Krissi and Joanna was different, the interpretation worked. I quite liked the God wall. I thought the guys in the office were spot on. I thought Beanie Feldstein (Booksmart, Ladybird) - despite the dodgy Wolverhampton accent - was actually brilliant. And the accent wasn't too off-putting. I also thought Alfie Allen (Theon Greyjoy) as John Kite, was wonderful.
So what were my problems then? Well, despite Theon's fabulous acting and lovely Welsh accent, I thought the John stuff wasn't done properly. I felt their relationship wasn't built up enough, and that Joanna went too far to be so easily forgiven, in this new, tweaked plot-line. It all felt a bit rushed and random. There was something uneven about it, like important scenes had been missed out. I preferred the book's ending too, and I missed Zee (a sweet character at the magazine who's pretty instrumental in the conclusion of Joanna's journey in the novel.)
Overall though, I really liked the film and as a book fan I wasn't disappointed. It kept enough of what I loved about the book, the casting was right and so was the look and feel of the whole thing. The references too, I love. ("Like Aslan, I am on the move." Would you get that in any other teen film? No.) Like the book, the film is weird but it's wonderful. And it's a different sort of coming of age movie, from a different voice and starring a different and important sort of heroine. It's a bit cheesy and there are lots of cringe-y, hide behind a cushion moments - but I'd still recommend.
Have you read How to Build a Girl? Seen the film? What did you think?