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Nichola Given ...
Kelly
Mandy Matthews ...
Trash
Jenny McCrindle ...
Cath
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October 2000 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Kolotoumpa  »

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Daughters and their embarrassing mothers. (spoiler in penultimate paragraph)
26 June 2001 | by (dublin, ireland) – See all my reviews

This Scottish short has many downbeat moments, but its effect is rarely depressing. It focuses on a young teenage girl who lives with a single mother usually out getting drunk and picking up much younger men. she has more run-of-the-mill (though related) problems, as well - the mockery of her peers; slight weight problems; and burgeoning, precocious puberty. The only place she can feel, if not happy, than alive, in control, is in the school gym, alone, practicing her routine, free from both her 'embarrassing' mother and her cruel peers.

her mother isn't a monster - we are given sufficient insight into her loneliness - but she has a spectacular way of embarrassing her daughter. When we first meet her she is literally legless, sprawling drunk at a bar and being chatted up by a boy half her age. Then she refuses to let her daughter wear high silk slacks to school, pulling them off her and ripping them in front of the other girls. Worst of all is her untimely appearance when the daughter has sneaked off with her friends, slugging vodka in a Coke bottle, queuing for a nightclub she has been forbidden to go to. Her mother emerges from a pub across the road, bawling at her toyboy who'd abandoned her for a younger blonde. in front of a queue of typical teenage girls (i.e. nasty and judgemental), she staggers away. The daughter is mortified, and pretends not to notice her; but it gets worse, as mum hikes down her tights; trying to relieve herself before finally toppling unconscious onto a heap of rubbish.

This is a masterly scene, exploiting not only the familiar traumas of being a teenager and peer-pressure, but also the mirroring traumas of being a middle-aged, abandoned woman. the film seems to be moralistically saying that the teenage drunks are on the road to this final degradation, but the wagging finger is kept in check, and humanity asserted: getting drunk with your mates can be fun, while making a fool of yourself in public isn't the worst thing in the world, especially if it reconnects you with your daughter. This scene is full of horror, dread and a kind of suspense - she can't, she won't, oh no!

But the film's movement is both depressingly circular - the mother begins and ends the film drunk and prone - and positive - her daughter begins by ignoring her and ends holding out her hand to help her up, in spite of peer ridicule. As she crosses the literal and symbolic road to do so, the sound of her gymnasium can be heard, making her action a kind of moral somersault, and giving her gymnastics an added dimension.

This scene wouldn't work nearly so well if it wasn't for the complex performances of the two leads, helping us understand characters not immediately likable. This is a film with a sure sense of place - schools, council flats, pubs, streets, day and night, up lifts and in the gutter.


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