Powder Room Review
What’s it about? The film follows nice but miserable protagonist Sam (Sheridan Smith) as she meets up with her glamorous school friend Michelle (Kate Nash) who she has not seen for a long time. Michelle’s life seems perfect; she recently got engaged and has been living in Paris for several years, where she enjoys a successful career running a fashion website with her equally glamorous French friend Jess (Oona Chaplin). Feeling inadequate and intimated, Sam fabricates her own successes but her plan backfires when her three loud and laddish best friends (Jaime Winstone, Riann Steele and Sarah Hoare) stampede into the club!
Verdict: Although Powder Room has its shortcomings, MJ Delaney’s directorial debut is modern cinematic excellence. The hard and honest emotional reality of what it is to be a woman today is captured perfectly by the strong all-female cast along with many laugh-out-loud moments too.
The film is an adaptation of Rachel Hirons’ play When Women Wee and unfortunately for me, the overwhelming sense of theatricality does not work. The toilet setting becomes too stage-like and takes away some of the plot’s credibility. Some of the jokes are crude clichés and at times, I found myself wincing. However, once you overlook these flaws and appreciate the deeper message of Powder Room – the examination of ladette culture and what society believes a woman should be – the film becomes very entertaining.
Star performances belong to Sheridan Smith and Jaime Winstone as the outrageous and sexually immoral Chanel. The chemistry between the pair is magic because they mirror the powerful sisterly bond of female friendships. They laugh, they cry, they dance, they fight but they’re always united. Chanel’s panic after discovering Sam had been punched on the nose and knocked out was a touching scene as 20 minutes before she’d aggressively said to her ,“You’re on your own Sam!” after a huge argument.
A great strength of the film is Sam’s appeal as I believe all women (at some point in their lives) can identify with her character. She’s vulnerable, unhappy, jealous and desperate for change yet unable to make it. It feels refreshing to see a conflicted and susceptible protagonist that a female viewer can relate to.
The representation of femininity and nightlife culture is hilarious but also quite disturbing. Casual sex, drugs, alcohol, theft and violence are the norm in ‘ladette culture’, promoting women to behave just as ghastly as the all-male cast in Football Factory! Some of the scenes are very reminiscent of popular TV documentaries about contemporary society – scantily clad, drunk and disorderly, vomiting women out-and-about on a Saturday night. Powder Room definitely brings the timeless British binge-drinking debate to the forefront of your mind and it’s not a pretty picture.
Final Words? Powder Room has been hailed as the British Bridesmaids since it is a comedy about and for women, however it feels like much more than just a catchy soundtrack by all-female rock group Fake Club and laughs. Powder Room is an enjoyable yet refreshingly authentic portrayal of what it is to be a woman in popular culture today.
Powder Room will be released in cinemas across the UK by Vertigo Films on 6 December 2013.