St Trinian's (12A)



Comedy (2007)
100mins UK

Starring: Rupert Everett, Colin Firth, Lena Headey
Director: Oliver Parker, Barnaby Thompson
Writer(s): Piers Ashworth, Nick Moorcroft
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

For years, Headmistress Camilla Fritton has encouraged the 'young ladies' of St Trinian's to follow her doctrine of free expression and self-empowerment. However, her radical approach to teaching has done little to secure the school's financial future and now the banks are threatening to close the establishment once and for all. Determined to save St Trinian's from the bulldozers, head girl Kelly and newcomer Annabelle join forces with the teachers to raise all the necessary money by stealing Girl With A Pearl Earring from the National Gallery.

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LondonNet Film Review
St Trinian's

Girls just wanna have fun in Oliver Parker and Barnaby Thompson's revival of the naughty, hockey stick-wielding minxes, first immortalised in the cartoons of Ronald Searle in the early '40s...

St Trinian's. Released by: Entertainment Film Distributors LtdDuring the '50s and '60s, director Frank Launder brought the mischievous heroines to a wider audience with his four films The Belles Of St Trinian's, Blue Murder At St Trinian's, The Pure Hell Of St Trinian's and The Great St Trinian's Train Robbery, featuring Alastair Sim as headmistress Miss Fritton.

Transplanted to the present day, these rebellious and unruly schoolgirls - who make 100% proof vodka in the biology lab and run possibly the world's tamest phone sex line from their dormitory - don't seem shameless or fearsome at all. Indeed, keeping in mind nightmarish headlines about drugs, violence and bullying in our classrooms, the pranks of these girl cliques are rather tame in comparison. Only once, during a hockey match between St Trinian's and Cheltenham Ladies College, do the students resort to the kind of wanton brutality and underhand tactics (nailing the ball to a stick) to ensure victory. The referee is knocked unconscious in the melee. "Does anybody have any smelling salts?" asks the school nurse. "No, but I've got poppers," replies one of the girls helpfully.

St Trinian's. Released by: Entertainment Film Distributors LtdRupert Everett, who also produces the film, totters in Sim's footsteps by donning drag as the toothy headmistress, who inspires her girls to follow her doctrine of self-empowerment. He seems to be having a hoot, continually poking fun at himself including asking one co-star "Don't you think I make a remarkable queen?" as Miss Fritton swans around the corridors in full Elizabeth I regalia.

For years, Headmistress Camilla Fritton has encouraged the free expression of the 'young ladies' of St Trinian's - the most notorious institution in the country. Unfortunately, her radical approach to teaching has done little to secure the school's finances and now the banks are threatening to close the establishment once and for all. "You have four weeks to pay the outstanding balance or this school is declared officially bankrupt," an accountant tells her coldly. To add to Camilla's woes, her old flame, Geoffrey Thwaites (Colin Firth), has risen to the post of Education Minister and is trying to dampen the anarchic spirit of her young charges.

St Trinian's. Released by: Entertainment Film Distributors LtdDetermined to save St Trinian's from the bulldozers, head girl Kelly (Gemma Arterton) and newcomer Annabelle (Talulah Riley) join forces with the other girls to steal Vermeer's masterpiece Girl With A Pearl Earring from the National Gallery, and fence it to Miss Fritton's art dealer brother Carnaby (Everett again). To accomplish their daring plan, Kelly and Annabelle have to unite the various factions: the Chavs led by Taylor (Kathryn Drysdale), the Emos led by Andrea (Palona Faith), the Geeks led by Polly (Lily Cole), the Trustafarians led by Celia (Juno Temple) and the Posh Totties: Chelsea (Tamsin Egerton), Peaches (Amara Karan) and Chloe (Antonia Bernath). Abetted by shady dealer Flash Harry (Russell Brand), who harbours a crush on Kelly, the girls plot to steal to the picture during the live televised final of the quiz show School Challenge, hosted by Stephen Fry, from the gallery's Grand Hall.

First of all, the Posh Totties must somehow survive the gruelling heats. Chelsea threatens to crumble under the pressure. "You know what you are, don't you?" English teacher Miss Dickinson (Lena Headey) tells her soothingly. "A washed up slapper?" replies Chelsea hopefully. "No, smart." St Trinian's is frothy and undemanding fun, interspersed with snappily edited montages set to anthems by Shampoo, Sugababes, Sophie Ellis Bextor and Girls Aloud, who belt out the title song over the end credits (dressed in school uniform).

St Trinian's. Released by: Entertainment Film Distributors LtdPiers Ashworth and Nick Moorcroft's screenplay demands a total suspension of disbelief, like the Posh Totties discovering their inner Geek in the nick of time or quizmaster Fry accepting drugs from a member of the studio audience. With so many characters crammed into 100 frenetic minutes, we forge few emotional bonds with the students.

Arterton oozes sex appeal, which is possibly why she is reportedly cast in the new Bond film, and Riley is appealingly gawky as the new girl who begs her father to take her away from a school she offensively likens to "Hogwarts for pikeys!" Everett and Firth have fun with their roles, verbally referencing their 1984 film Another Country plus a visual gag that should please fans of Pride And Prejudice. Jodie Whittaker, last seen sparring with Peter O'Toole in Venus, steals the film though as receptionist Beverly, who is often in a world of her own. "You'll 'ave to forgive me," she tells Carnaby apologetically when he arrives at the school, "but me brain doesn't kick in until Wednesday after I've been canin' it for the weekend!" St Trinian's homebrew will do that to you.

- Sam Cannon


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