Traumatic experiences shape the lives of a group of teenage girls living in the seaside town of Margate.

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Credited cast:
Elizabeth Crawford ...
Elizabeth
Laura Curnick ...
Laura
Katie Foster-Barnes ...
Katie (as Kate Foster-Barnes)
...
Kerry (as Kieri Noddings)
Helen Laker ...
Helen
Mourad Mazouz ...
French Voice Over
Frankie Williams ...
Frances (as Frances Williams)
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Traumatic experiences shape the lives of a group of teenage girls living in the seaside town of Margate.

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teenager | suicide | See All (2) »

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Drama

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18 December 2004 (UK)  »

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£165,000 (estimated)
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An overall boring and forgettable film, with occasions of lush cinematography
27 May 2006 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

It is always very hard for me to come crushing down upon a film I have spent £3.75 to see and dedicated a Saturday evening to watch, but Tracy Emin's 'Top Spot' is a rare exception. In this case due to its short length of 63 minutes I have time to post my comment on IMDb immediately afterwards!

'Top Spot' is an often confusing, rarely exciting and typically arty affair. Emin fails to provide any narrative for a film that would have benefited immensely from even a few 'plot' points, instead the scenes jumble into some sort of conscious string of memories that weave annoyingly with no sense of a time line.

The six young girls, all amateurs but surprisingly confident actresses, represent the significant parts of Emin's adolescence; the loss of virginity, desire for escape, hopeless search for love, promiscuousness, bunking off school etc. However, it simply does not work as a piece of film having six people representing one person when we are expected to feel for each one individually. There is no significant character development, each event feels like an excuse for Emin to exorcise her own demons, not an emotionally charged moment for us to share and experience with her so when the film reached its hasty end I felt I did not have enough to think about, despite being presented with some rather thought-provoking issues.

On the positive side however, I did enjoy ways in which parts of this film were presented, especially when Emin was actually being truly "artsy". The scene where one of the girls is dancing in a large empty room is filmed gorgeously- the contrasting lights, the texture of the picture, the deep colour and the blurry, jagged motion of the camera produces a piece of art in itself incredibly beautiful, and one that would captivate me more if presented in isolation within the walls of the Tate Modern.

I am a very big fan of Super 8 and looked forward to when Emin chose to use it next. I feel it was an effective medium, along with the well paced editing, for showing the similarities between Margate and Egypt. Perhaps this meant that Egypt and Margate were actually the same thing to her?

Despite occasional sparks of ingenuity in the form of exciting cinematography, 'Top Spot' well and truly fails to impress as an enjoyable hour sat in front of the screen. There is little dialogue but what is said often fails to have emotional substance, carrying an atmosphere of self-indulgence and laziness. Scenes which should pack a punch, such as one which deals with a girl in an alleyway post-rape, didn't really affect me in the way in which they were presented. I know this is not because I can't relate to her pain, being male, but on account of a very cut and paste editing style which often minimises rather than maximises the emotional impact of key hard-hitting scenes.

I would not recommend that anybody pick up this film, especially if you expect a sort of arty, English version of Catherine Hardwicke's 'Thirteen'. Fans of Tracy Emin may delight in this as a kind of motion testament to her teenage years, but that will be it.

Perhaps with a strong narrative and clever character development 'Top Spot' could have been an interesting, but eye-opening look at teenage life for messed-up young girls in a boring seaside town. As it is, you'll find a cold, boring look at messed up, but potentially interesting teenage girls, succeeding in putting you well off Margate. Forever.

2/10


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