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Bill Forsyth returns to the romantic comedy of Gregory's Girl. Twenty years after his teenage crush on a football-mad schoolgirl, Gregory is back at his old school, teaching English. When two of his pupils uncover evil practices at a local factory they want their teacher to help them expose the wrong-doer, who happens to be Greg's old schoolfriend. Trapped between his idealism and breaking the law while trying to choose between two girls - one a schoolgirl and the other a full-blooded woman - Gregory still has some growing up to do. Written by
Film 4 library
[in a meeting with the headmaster and the police, Greg is waffling about watching badgers to explain why he was seen with Frances in the park late at night]
So what were you doing last night?
Well last night was pretty exciting, actually, because Frances had more or less promised us... You see, the thing is, I've never actually seen Frances's beaver.
"Frances's beaver"! I mean Frances's badger.
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By no means his best film - but still an enjoyable romp, as long as you're broad-minded.
By no means his best film, and by no means comparable to the original (how could it be, the original is a gem) - but still an enjoyable romp. The original hit movie, Gregory's Girl, oozed pubescent romance and bittersweet comedy.
But the long-awaited sequel starts with a dream sex sequence between a male teacher and his 15-year-old pupil in the school's shower block while the headmaster and police batter on the door.
The actor John Gordon Sinclair, who played gawky but charming Gregory in the first film, plays a Gregory who has become a 35-year-old teacher with a passion for schoolgirls. This in itself will be enough for many self-appointed moral watchdogs to condemn the film out-of-hand - they are the same people who tried to claim Lolita was a dog before anyone had even seen it. Yawn, snore... this kind of rent-a-gob puritan "outrage" looks so stupid from countries like Spain or Holland where a fifteeen year-old is several years over the age-of-consent.
This is indeed a funny film, in the politically-incorrect mould pioneered by several recent USA films. That's not to say it's a good film - but it's not bad either, and if you suspend disbelief (hey, you did it for Star Wars Episode 1 :) then it is at least very funny in parts - it's just that those parts don't hang together very well.
And it is shocking too, especially to the frosty English looking for another fix of comforting adolescent nostalgia. Liz Lochhead, the poet and playwright, said of seeing an early cut of Gregory's 2 Girls. "It does shock you. You go, 'Oh my God, what is going on here?' But it's a dream and that makes you laugh. The film is, of course, about that - it's definitely about Gregory's forbidden desires - but I think that's wonderful... The whole film is about him trying to run away from his own desires. It has big sweeping things to say about Scotland. It's an immensely sad and painful film too, but very, very funny. I think the best word to describe the film is sore."
According to one insider, an early script of Gregory's 2 Girls had several sex scenes, including the opening fantasy and a later sequence in which Gregory and the schoolgirl consummate their relationship. He said the script made a point of stressing that the girl was underage. The girl is played by a 16-year-old actress, Carly Mackinnon. Certainly very topical in Jack Straw's New-Labour hang'em!flog'em! 'we-will-rule-for-100-years' Britain, in which such teacher/teen-pupil relationships are daily fodder for Puritanical comment.
Bill Forsyth, the director who also made the original Gregory's Girl 20 years ago, has understandably refused to talk to the media since starting work on the film, which was reportedly fraught with difficulties and personality clashes, and went over budget and over schedule.
In June 1996, Forsyth submitted the script of his Gregory's Girl sequel to the Scottish Film Production Fund (SFPF) with a view to securing lottery funding. The fund turned him down and then 'withheld judgment' on the application. Sources say the film's subject matter was deemed "indecent" and the SFPF allegedly feared 'being crucified' in the tabloid press. This decision was later overruled by the Scottish Arts Council, who held final say on lottery funds, which instructed that Gregory's 2 Girls be awarded 1m, supplementing the 2m invested by Channel 4. Shooting finished in July 1998 and the film premiered at the 1999 Edinburgh Festival in August 1999, then at BAFTA in London in September 1999. For those wondering, the original film, made almost 20 years ago, became a classic for its innocent charm and offbeat sense of humour, and launched the career of Bill Forsyth who went on to direct such low-key classics as Local Hero. It's a pity he didn't try for a more low key piece instead of going for a A Fish Called Wanda style comedy-romp. It's as if the climate of the times caused him to shy away from dealing sensitively and humourously with a love relationship between a teacher and a schoolgirl.
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