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The Girl With Brains In Her Feet Review

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Jack is a talented young girl dragged in every direction by the influential people in her life. All she really wants to do is be a normal teen and experiment as much as possible, but being pushed in all different directions except the ones she wants leads to a pressure that proves too much.

★★★★★

That most tasteless of decades in terms of fashion and popular culture, the 1970s, rears its ridiculously-coiffed head again this month, this time with a story not of sex and drugs and rock'n'roll, but of sex and drugs and running shoes.

The story centres on Jack (Ward), a 13-year-old girl whose sporting and artistic prowess has made her something of a teacher's pet. Sports master Mr. Loughborough (Thompson) wants her to sacrifice her other activities to run in the county athletic trials, and is willing to spend all his spare time coaching her. Meanwhile, her hippie art teacher (Samantha Wheatley) wants Jack to fulfill her artistic potential; friend Maxine (Jodie Smith) jealously wants to lead her off the rails; and Jack's unmarried, deeply religious mother (Mealing) wants her daughter to get through puberty as quickly and with as little fuss as possible. Jack herself wants to win the trials, smoke, try sex, have a normal mother and use tampons instead of sanitary towels. But she can't do it all, and the pressures from all sides gradually prove too much.

Debut director Bangura achieves a tremendous sense of the '70s, drawing on the very worst of its pop music and styles, while screenwriter Jo Hodges has peppered the plot with the now discomfitting language and attitudes peculiar to that pre-PC era. Unusually, the adults steal the scenes from the youngsters: Mealing is as intriguing as Thompson is endearing, while the schoolgirl chatter about boys and sex is somewhat forced and unnatural.

While it's an engaging story humorously told, it belongs more to the small screen (for which Hodges has written widely) than that of the big silver variety, so loses a star it may otherwise have garnered.

While it's an engaging story humorously told, it belongs more to the small screen (for which Hodges has written widely) than that of the big silver variety, so loses a star it may otherwise have garnered.