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  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

This gritty female-focused drama has shades of Andrea Arnold and a scorching debut turn from newcomer Liv Hill.

Newcomer Liv Hill gives a firecracker performance in James Gardner’s tough directorial debut. She plays Sarah, a mouthy teenager living on a council estate in Margate, in a frank warts-and-all depiction of Shoreditch-on-Sea that’s far removed from its current trendy image. As well as caring for her bipolar mum (Sinead Matthews) and two younger siblings, Sarah works part-time at a tatty seafront arcade, performing back-alley ‘favours’ to the grubby clientele in between wiping down the slot machines. This earns her a reputation at school, where she’s failing at her studies and continually starting fights.

A ray of light appears when her drama teacher (Cyril Nri) encourages her to use her acerbic tongue for a stand-up routine at the end-of-term performance. Sarah purges her pain by learning to write jokes in the style of her new-found heroes, Frankie Boyle and Bill Hicks.

Gardner should be admired for how he tackles the uphill challenge of making Sarah’s tragic situation funny, but it doesn’t quite work, leaving us too drained to crack a smile at the moments of comic relief. Secondary characters also lack depth, falling into kitchen-sink clichés. The highlight is undoubtedly Hill’s remarkable rage-fuelled performance, hitting the viewer like a punch to the gut. Expect big things from this rising star. 

Written by
Joseph Walsh

Release Details

  • Rated:15
  • Release date:Friday 15 February 2019
  • Duration:101 mins

Cast and crew

  • Director:James Gardner
  • Screenwriter:James Gardner, Simon Lord
  • Cast:
    • Liv Hill
    • Sinead Matthews
    • Cyril Nri
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