In a groundbreaking year for women British directors, the latest in a succession of eye-catching debuts arrives in cinemas this week. After the Raine Allen-Miller’s breathtakingly fresh Rye Lane and Charlotte Regan’s gutsy Scrapper, Molly Manning Walker’s How To Have Sex marks a distinct change of tone. It arrives hot-foot from last month’s London Film Festival and has already scooped the Un Certain Regard prize at Cannes.
Set in Malia, the party capital of Crete, it follows a group of girls who are there for the ultimate teenage holiday – no family, complete freedom, partying by night, chilling by day and, most discussed of all, getting laid. The youngest of them, Tara (Mia McKenna-Bruce) has the latter on her mind: the only virgin among them, she’s wild and extrovert on the surface but doesn’t plan to surrender it lightly. As they spend time with the boys in the next-door apartment, she catches the eye of the awkward but likeable Badger (Shaun Thomas) but finds herself drawn to the more street smart Paddy (Samuel Bottomley), an experience that leads her to struggle with self-discovery and, most importantly, consent.
In the interview below, Bottomley, Thomas and Laura Ambler, who plays Paige, one the group of girls, talk about shooting on location in Malia – including Bottomley’s “nightmare” encounter with a sea urchin – and how the young cast developed the chemistry we see on screen. Thomas reflects on how director Molly Manning Walker “gave us a lot of freedom with our characters” and how he used his relationship with his own sister to give Badger some “flavour”. And Bottomley admits to constantly having songs in his head, which made the film something of a no-brainer for him.
How To Have Sex is released in cinemas on 3rd November | Read our review of the film.