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How To Have Sex


Year: 2023 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: Unknown 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: This film is not expected to be subtitled, though this cannot be guaranteed. 
Directed by Molly Manning Walker 
Starring: Mia McKenna-Bruce, Shaun Thomas, Lara Peake  
An image from How To Have Sex

On a post-exam holiday to Malia – a party town famed for all-round debauchery – with her friends Em and Skye, Tara (Mia McKenna-Bruce) keeps her mind off her looming exam results by throwing herself into a week of neon blue cocktails, skin-tight outfits, and the prospect of having sex for the first time. One particularly hungover morning on her hotel balcony, she strikes up a rapport with Badger (Shaun Thomas), her goofy (and broadly well-meaning) neighbour, who both senses and reflects her desperation to get sex out of the way. But ultimately, it’s his sexier and more insensitive mate Paddy (Samuel Bottomley) who takes Tara away from the group one night, the exact nature of the event left unspoken. The power of this film lies in the aftermath – the contrast of Tara and her friends’ fast-paced party-girl lifestyles against the creeping realisation of what’s happened to her. ‘Did he throw you around and that?’ Skye asks. Tara is disoriented, unsure how she remembers it – or even if she wants to remember it at all. McKenna-Bruce is spectacular, but all three of our leads – the kind of messy and insecure young women who are often not done justice on screen – are portrayed empathetically and seriously. Manning Walker never judges her characters, or resorts to reductive cliches, instead unflinchingly facing the deep discomfort of Tara’s experiences and the grey areas of sexual experiences and consent. Winner of the coveted Un Certain Regard prize at Cannes this year, Molly Manning Walker’s directorial debut is interestingly unsentimental and occasionally hilarious, and one from which, ultimately, all three leads emerge stronger and happier than before.

Liv Lancastle

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Screenings of this film:

2023/2024 Autumn Term (digital)