How to Build a Girl (2019) Poster

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Forgettable coming-of-age caper
gallusNumpty1 March 2020
I'll be honest, I already wasn't a fan of Caitln Moran's origin before I tried reading the book on which this film is based, and I got about two chapters into it before realising it wasn't going to change my mind. So when this turned out to be the 'surprise film' I'd pre-booked a ticket for at a recent festival, I wasn't expecting much. And that's what I got.

It's the semi-biographical, played-for-laughs tale of a bookish teenage girl from a none-too-well-off family. Her father is a failed musician, her mother suffers from post-natal depression, and she shares a bedroom with her teenage brother. With encouragement from the talking posters on her wall, she finds her writing mojo, with the proverbial hilarious consequences. But we know the real Cailtin Moran is still a writer, so you can probably guess the ending.

I thought perhaps having never been a teenage girl myself was the main reason for failing to connect with anything the protagonist experienced, but my wife seemed to like it even less than I did. So I have to conclude it just wasn't very good.
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Paddy Considine is wasted on this
Roogatsby11 May 2020
I knew nothing about this movie going into it. It's a very smug film that continuously pats itself on the back for being so smug. There isn't really anything unique or original about this 'coming of age' story - sure it has bright colors and drops some fuzzy cool cultural references (ooh Happy Mondays...Manic Street Preachers.. what year is this supposed to be?) but all of its charm is superficial. It is predictable, poorly paced, and the main character is frustratingly unlikeable. Her narcissism seems to always end up being rewarded even when things go awry for her. Paddy Considine is super enthusiastic as her father, but even his character still comes off as a total brat. Every character is a brat, there's no room for development or real redemption in the formula. I struggled to make it through this film, it is so unapologetically tone deaf... Maybe, just maybe, it's barely worth watching if only you can convince yourself that every single character is an extension of the author's completely self-absorbed persona, like a teenage music critic fever dream Fight Club but without the flair, ideologies, or big reveal.
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Didn't expect too much, It was nothing more than fine.
noellemary9612 May 2020
All of the usual coming of age tropes are present but it takes place in an unusual set of circumstances. Honestly, the whole movie felt so tacky. The notable actors playing the characters on the wall fell a little flat, the costumes felt like what a teenager thinks people in the 80s would have dressed like, and considering the movie was about a music crtic they could have used music more liberally. Beanie's accent is sometimes dead on but she frequently slips out or misses the pronunciation, which pulled me out of the story quite often. I think this is a time when casting a bubbly American 20 something acctress to play a British teenager with a pretty specific regional accent just did not work. All in all, the movie wasn't bad, but there isn't anything distinct about it that will stick with me. It's too bad beause Beanie Feldstein is a lovely person and really shines in other movies, but this just was a bit of a "meh" production.
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Lovely heartfelt coming of age movie.
brindood-19 May 2020
This film really charmed me. Though the main character's accent wandered a little, I forgave it very quickly because the story and the protagonist's journey was really engaging. There are plenty of laughs and heart breaking moments along the way and I left having been thoroughly entertained.
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Really liked it
Gordon-1116 May 2020
This film tells a bittersweet coming of age story. I am so glad she finds herself! The protagonist is really engaging, and you just can't help but be drawn to her story. I really liked it.
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Charming and harmless -
eelen-seth11 May 2020
Caitlin Moran's novel (who also wrote the screenplay) 'How To Build a Girl' tells the story of teenager Johanna Morrigan's (Beanie Feldstein - Booksmart) journey as she reinvents herself as Dolly Wilde. Yesterday, a teenager in search of her own identity; today, a sex-positive wild child with an infamous look, and trash talking the finest artists of her era for her new job as a critic in London, to help out her financially struggling family in Wolverhampton.

Feldstein plays a somewhat similar, but this time British, character as she did in last year's Booksmart. A tad bit more insecure, but still driven and charismatic. It does distract a little when she channels Melanie C in 'Spiceworld' with her British accent. Not necessarily a bad thing, since this is mostly the case in the first half of the film, before Johanna turns into a completely different version of herself. Heavily influenced by the collection of talking portraits of important historic figures on her bedroom wall, and by connecting with her brother Krissi (Laurie Kynaston - The Trouble With Maggie Cole), she goes on to forming a young woman's personality who can stand on her own for a big future to come.

The chemistry between the members of the Morrigan-family feels genuine. Especially Paddy Considine (HBO's 'The Outsider') as Johanna's father and wannabe rock'n'roll-fanatic, has some heartwarming moments with his on screen daughter and is a lot of fun to watch. When it comes to a true scene stealing performance, we have to wait until about halfway into the film, when Johanna gets to interview rocker John Kite. Played by Alfie Allen (HBO's 'Game of Thrones'), he has one big scene in a hotel room with Feldstein, which isn't just emotionally raw, but showcases once again how good he is at playing a vulnerable, troubled man.

Coky Giedroyc has directed plenty of episodes for television (most recently 'Harlots'), but never seems to want to upstage that with something that's made for the big screen. Everything feels a bit too BBC, and while there's nothing wrong with that, it does limit the wide range of people that could show interest in watching this. Nothing makes 'How To Build a Girl' stand out. It feels like it borrows a lot from other coming-of-age films, and while there is a lot of clever stuff to be found, it doesn't particularly digs itself into your brain to be memorable. The script itself is riddled with clever nods to iconic literary figures (such as Little Women's Jo March), and you'll never listen to Annie's "Tomorrow" the same way ever again.

'How To Build a Girl' was made to connect with plenty of teenagers out there, who might be struggling with finding their own identity. As far as originality goes, it doesn't really discover any new ground, which for a film like this might be enough to entertain those who are looking for just a straightforward charming story.
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That Accent!
holly-4ever14 May 2020
I'm not a fan of Caitlin Moran, but am often willing to give a good story a chance, despite the author. Waltz in Beanie, who Hollywood is trying to shove down the public's throat despite her below-average looks and talent, and her horrid...HORRID accent. Why would anyone cast a semi-autobiographical story about an English writer with an American lead is beyond comprehension, and I could barely get through 10 minutes of the ear-ripping, typical-American-trying-to-sound-English accent, that she looks nothing like her other family members, nor does she even look English for that matter...and I was out.

Stop trying to make "Beanie" happen. I refuse to see anything she's in from starting now.
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It's worth seeing
w-0832312 April 2020
Warning: Spoilers
It is a surprising coming of age film, the protagonist because of the writing breakthrough in self-therefore lost in fame.The lines are clever and humorous, and the dialogue between the heroine and the role models is full of imagination.It's hard to imagine that this small town English girl is actually Jonah Hill's sister. There are more and more good movies of this type in the last two years.
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How can you not like Beanie!?
tdrish26 May 2020
She's flighty. She's quirky. She's Johanna! A daydreaming loner who spends time in the library and talks to various characters who move around in poster clippings on her walls. Okay, I didn't want to say it....she's pretty much a dork. She seems to be the heart of her own family though, which consists of her brother, her mother and two adorable baby twins, and....father or father figure? At any rate, she wants to get a job as a journalist with the big boys down at the office, hoping to get her foot in the doorway with, well, anybody special. Shes only 16, so she doesn't exactly have her goals or priorities straight, all she knows is she wants to make enough money to support her family, so its clear that even if she is a little out there, we know her heart is in the right place. She's very likable, although some may argue her character can get very annoying or tiresome, I disagree, and the film comes with a few surprises to keep it all interesting, including Alfie ( John Kite). The film has a very touching scene when Kite stops the rain with a snap of a finger, and walks Johanna home. The entire premise of the film, is how she has to build herself up, tear herself down, become a person that she's not, until she's finally satisfied with the person that she was, and becomes abundantly mature by the end of the film ( At least, mature to a 16 year old standard.) How to Build A Girl is a perfect late teen comedy, although there's obvious elements that keep this from being a family friendly title. ( It's earned its R rating, let's leave it at that. Nothing too harsh, but nothing you want the little ones to see, trust me.) It has heart, it has soul, and it may even move you if you can relate.
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Great coming of age story from a young woman's eye.
sionnach-liath1 March 2020
I thoroughly enjoyed this film. It was the 'Surprise Film ' at DIFF in Dublin tonight. Great cast interaction and the story was enjoyable. Good girl goes bad has success and realises she really wants to be good. Not stuffy and lots of fun with some good music.
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Beanie Feldstein makes it better
lolamagacho9 May 2020
I absolutely LOVE Beanie Feldstein and she's just perfect as Johanna, she really got in the role and nailed it. "How to build a girl" is a nice movie to watch in your chill time. It's a fun movie, not the best ever, but it's worth whatching.
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Really pretty great actually. Charming & Funny
kirbie21823 June 2020
I give it 10 stars because of the poor ratings thus far. The performances by beanie feldstein & Alfie Allen were especially incredible. Really quite moving. It will have you catching feels in no time. Beanie's comedic timing is spot-on. She blew me away. Such an incredible talent. I can't wait to see more of her in the future. And Alfie Allen, my goodness, who knew he could be such a heartbreaker. It's easy to see why anyone; let alone a naïve teen girl, would have no problems falling head-first in love with hm. Alfie's performance was by far his best to date, and it's a joy to experience the way in which he brings the character of John Kite to life in such an effortless fashion. It's really quite engaging. His musical number gave me the chills. The chemistry between the two was surprisingly charming. kite was the only man in her life that you could really route for, aside from her likable, yet ultimately disappointing father. Her father cared more about making his own rockstar dreams come true than care for the his happiness and success of his daughter. To his credit he did possess A few redeeming qualities here and there. I can easily forgive any plot issues or constant changes from our protagonist because that's true to life when you're discovering who you are for the first time. It is a coming of age story after all. Personally, I didn't take issue with the pacing or it's character development. To me it felt magical and moving. At times Hysterically funny, other times charming and refreshing. If you don't mind the dare-to-be different approach to life and film making you won't be disappointed.
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Beanie Disappeared inti the role and made it good.
polarity_pictures9 May 2020
Expected something rough, wasn't bad. She did a great accent, I was listening carefully for any hiccups in it and nothing too bad. after a few scene she disappeared into the character and made it believable. Exactly what an actor suppose to do. Story was allright, but standard fare. Soundtrack could have been better by choosing more unique tracks rather than the ones that are more known.
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Funny and smart comedy with a heart
anne-881-52975315 May 2020
I thoroughly enjoyed this funny, clever movie about a girl coming of age and trying to create her life. I didn't know anything about the book, so I wasn't comparing it to that. I loved the scenes of Johanna discovering the music scene and her own voice as a teenager. The wall of Gods and her flights of fancy were fun and entertaining. The film beautifully conveyed the magic of music, clubs and bands and how they make you feel when you go to a live show in a small club especially for the first times when you are very young. The way the film showed and also poked fun at the boys club of the music and magazine scene was great. It also showed the darker side and the price she paid for admittance. I was rooting for her the whole time. The people in her family and in the music scene were all interesting to me and different in their own way, each communicated a lot emotionally even if their role in the story was small. The ending is fantastic.
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Wall of Gods
ferguson-67 May 2020
Greetings again from the darkness. British writer Caitlin Moran has adapted her own 2014 semi-autobiographical novel-memoir for the screen, because who better to write about the coming-of-age of a talented outcast than that talented outcast herself? Given the profusion of coming-of-age movies that hit the screen every year, it's a welcome change when one takes a different approach. And this one does just that.

Beanie Feldstein (BOOKSMART, and Jonah Hill's sister) stars as Johanna Morrigan, replete with British accent. Johanna is a dreamer, and as she sits in her usual spot at the library, she fantasizes about Mr. Darcy riding in to save her from this mundane life. We quickly learn that Johanna is bright, and treated as quite the misfit at school. Even her English teacher asks her to scale back her writing assignments. See, in addition to being a world class dreamer, Johanna is a very talented writer ... and she sees that as her only means to escape Wolverhampton.

At home, Johanna has a "Wall of Gods" featuring photographs of her literary and historical heroes, including: Sylvia Plath (Lucy Punch), Elizabeth Taylor (Lily Allen), Bronte sisters, Sig Freud (Michael Sheen), and Maria von Trapp (Gemma Arterton). Johanna speaks to these photos, and they answer her. Johanna's family hustles to stay just above poverty. Her dad's (Paddy Considine) dream of rock stardom has passed, and now he breeds black market Border Collies while remaining optimistic about life. Her mother (Sarah Solemani) suffers from post-partem depression after giving birth to twins (kids number 3 and 4).

Johanna shares a small bedroom space (divided by "the Berlin wall") with her cool brother Krissi (Laurie Kynaston). We know he's cool, because he hangs out in the cool room at school - a room to which Johanna has never been invited. After embarrassing herself on a televised poetry reading show (hosted by Chris O'Dowd), Johanna is encouraged by brother Krissi to apply for a music critic job at a local publication. Her heartfelt submission on "Annie" the musical causes guffawing among the ultra-cool writing staff at the magazine; yet her writing skill and persistence land her a shot. It's at this point that things change for Johanna.

An unusual interview with popular and earnest singer John Kite (Alfie Allen, brother of singer Lily Allen and son of actor Keith Allen) results in a connection and teenage crush, leading to a sappy article rejected by her employer. Given a second chance by the magazine, Johanna's alter-ego Dolly Wilde does in fact turn wild. Her 'bad girl' image and mean spirited critiques of bands gain her a cult following - a type of notoriety. The pen may be mightier than the sword, but when the pen is used as a sword, the damage is severe. What follows, of course, are the inevitable hard (and painful) life lessons.

Director Coky Giedroyc has spent most of her career on TV shows, but she has a feel for this material. However, it's mostly the no-holds-barred performance of Beanie Feldstein that makes this work - both the comedy and drama. We've seen the outsider with talent many times before, and because of that, expectations are a bit low going in. This time, a different twist and passionate filmmakers and actors turn this into quite an entertaining 100 minutes.
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Why is a 27 year old American playing a 16 year old Brit?
rc_harris23 May 2020
Terrible casting. I loved Beanie in Booksmart but she's horribly miscast here.

Anything smart from the book is removed to make a diet Almost Famous.

Paddy Considine and Alfie Allen are the only bright sparks.
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I loved it!
DreamCatcher710 May 2020
I read the books before seeing the movie and I think this adaption of the first (out of two) books is great and exactly what I had hoped it to be. It's entertaining, it's funny, it's quirky. It's a bit touching. Alfie Allen sings like a dream and is a gift in this (as he usually is in anything he's in) and Beanie Feldstein does a great job as Johanna/Dolly Wilde. I wish the two of them had more screen time together - that's my only complaint, really. Here's to hoping for a sequel if they chose to film book no. 2 as well.
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