Girl with Brains in her Feet, The

Director: Roberto Banguara

This fresh and enjoyable first feature by director Roberto Banguara and writer Joe Hodges (both recent graduates of the Uk’s National Film and Television School) is about the joys and pains of growing up in Leicester in the seventies. Hodges’ semi-autobiographical script focuses on Jack (Joanna Ward), a lively, precocious girl of mixed race who has a talent for sprinting and a knack for landing herself in trouble. Her erratic mother (Amanda Mealing) tries to keep an eye on her, but Jack is drawn to adventure. Whilst the school’s coach is grooming her for a place in the country athletics squad, Jack has other important things on her mind, chief amongst them being smoking, boys and losing her virginity.
The film’s witty take on the coming-of-age genre maintains a satisfying balance between the problems and pleasures which afflict the average teenager. So whilst family relations, casual racism, peer group pressure and the threat of teenage pregnancy are the big themes running through the drama, they never overwhelm Jack’s endearing curiosity and lust for life. Avoiding the semi-documentary approach of the Ken Loach school of realism, the film harks back to the earlier sixties tradition when British films such as A Taste of Honey and The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner treated their working-class subjects with more lyricism and humour. Beautifully performed and attractively shot in bright colours by Peter Butler, the film also boasts a great seventies sound-track, with songs by Marc Boland, Sweet and T-Rex.

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