How to Have Sex: On the red carpet with the cast and director at London Film Festival 2023
Molly Manning Walker joins the ranks of British female filmmakers kicking up a storm in the cinema world lately (Charlotte Regan with Scrapper and Charlotte Wells with Aftersun to name but a few) with her blisteringly bold How to Have Sex. In the same way Michaela Coel’s I May Destroy You found a totally novel language to explore the nuances of sex encounters, female pleasure and consent, How to Have Sex fearlessly dives into the messy parts of coming-of-age with vivid authenticity and precision.
Her invocation of the experience of being on a rite-of-passage, post-GCSE holiday abroad with mates, in this case, Malia, is meticulous down to the shabby hotels, scandalously barely-there outfits and endless blue-hued, sticky shots; the sweat, sand, glitter and vomit; the pounding music and poolside sex games.
Mia McKenna-Bruce is phenomenal as Tara, somewhat cautiously out to lose her virginity, and through her eyes, we see both the joy and dark side of surviving one of these holidays, the first half embracing the neon-soaked highs of the former, the second half descending into the nightmarish depths of the latter. The oscillating nature of the environment and her female friends, from time-of-your-life fun, to anxiety-inducing peer pressure is ingeniously captured.
For a millennial Brit, there is so much in this movie that strikes a visceral chord, both the uninhibited hedonism of youth, and the unsettling consequences of naivety (this writer found herself involuntarily in tears). The importance of a film like this shouldn’t be overstated – if you could show it during sex education in schools you’d be doing a great favour to the next generation. Let’s hope we don’t have to continue to suffer the inadequate teachings of the past and can enjoy sex where mutual consent and mutual pleasure are front and centre.
The Upcoming spoke with the director and cast at London Film Festival. Manning Walker spoke about how her own memories of a boozy, post-exams holiday sparked the idea for the film, finding her incredible cast and how she pulled off recreating a high-season Brit abroad experience with authenticity. She also shared how she hopes the film will prompt conversation and improve young people’s experience of sex, particularly when it’s their first time.
McKenna-Bruce chatted to us about taking on the role of Tara, the highlights and challenges of the shoot and what she hopes audiences will take away.
Samuel Bottomley gave his reflections on his character, and how the movie in particular will also provoke conversation among men as well as women around consent and their approach to sex.
Laura Ambler also shared why she wanted to jump on board with the project as Paige and some of the memorable moments on set.
Enva Lewis then gave some insight into her role as Em, how audiences can relate to each of the characters and the importance of the film’s message.
How to Have Sex is in UK cinemas on 3rd November 2023.
Watch the trailer for How to Have Sex here: