I remember reading this book years ago, but if I’m being completely honest, that’s as far as my memory goes. Maybe I was too young to appreciate it back then as it certainly did not leave a lasting impression. That didn’t deter me from wanting to see the film adaption though, especially when I found out that Beanie Feldstein would be the star. Going in I was a bit apprehensive, but I came out loving what I saw!
Johanna Morrigan (Beanie Feldstein) knows she has a gift for writing and she wants nothing more than to be able to do this for the rest of her life. The fact that it would provide financial aid for her struggling musician of a father, her depressed mother, the brother she shares a bedroom with and the newborn twins is only a bonus.
When she applies for a gig as a music critic at a reputable magazine in London, nobody takes her seriously. As a regular sixteen year old girl from Wolverhampton, she is not what anybody in the industry was expecting. How could someone who was so witty and sharp in her articles come off as shy and quiet in person?
So, in order to get ahead, Johanna decides to adopt an alter ego by the name of Dolly Wilde. Dolly does not take crap from anybody and instead of singing the praises of the bands she critiques, she slams them and points out all their flaws. Johanna is no more as she transforms more and more into Dolly. Everything she used to believe in no longer seems important. She will stop at nothing to impress her male colleagues and to get ahead, all while keeping her sights set on musical artist John Kite (Alfie Allen), the one man who is out of her league.
A coming of age story, How To Build A Girl was such a lovely film that kept me transfixed throughout. Watching Johanna change everything about herself to fit in was extremely relatable and there were many instances where I saw myself in her.
The time frame of the movie is in the early nineties and I loved taking a look back at what our world was like back then. The bands that were popular and the fashion choices were a total nostalgia trip that I didn’t want to end. Even London was unrecognisable!
I also appreciated how original writer Caitlin Moran created the screenplay because she helped make this movie into what it was. Considering the events that transpired were partially based on her life, it would have been wrong not having her on board.
How To Build A Girl is one of those stories that stays with you long after you’ve watched it. Despite watching it one week ago now, I am still thinking about it with a smile on my face.