How to Have Sex
As horribly dated as the American Pie movies may be, the quest for defloration is still an appreciable subject matter for any coming-of-age film. British director Molly Manning Walker opted for her female take on the hyped event with a title that will boost online sales because most audiences would be too put out to ask for it at the ticket office. (Also enquiring about the film’s length or duration is not advisable at this stage, so to save you the embarrassment of the unrelated search results: its runtime is 98 minutes.)
Speaking of embarrassment, the feature introduces its protagonists Tara, Em and Skye through their uncomfortably relatable party behaviour. They drink too much, whoop too loudly and display their supposedly eternal affection towards each other just a tad too often. After taking their exams, the three girls have travelled to the infamous Greek booze tourism destination Malia, to party it up and have sex – in Tara’s case, for the first time.
Vampire Academy’s Mia McKenna-Bruce acting work here is staggering: she plays Tara with such innocence behind her confident exterior, one can still see the child behind her eyes. The audience can sense the exact moment her character’s enjoyment of the raunchy humour of those around her topples and she starts to feel uneasy, no matter how hard she tried to hide this. This also speaks to first-time feature director Manning Walker’s intuitive instincts and sensibility.
When Tara falls asleep on an air mattress after the long built-up happening, there is the faintest nod to The Graduate, but stylistically, How to Have Sex is up to par with the modern portrayal of adolescence on screen and television, striking similar notes to Pleasure or Euphoria.
There is an unfortunate sense of petering out towards the final minutes, which keeps the film from making a more lasting impact, but it is nonetheless a moving and imbuing affair.
How to Have Sex does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews from our Cannes Film Festival 2023 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Cannes Film Festival website here.