Powder Room (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner06/12/2013

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 86 mins

Enjoyable British farce with a witty, sharply observed script, lively direction and a superb pair of performances from Sheridan Smith and Jaime Winstone.

What's it all about?
Directed by MJ Delaney (best known for the brilliant Newport State of Mind video), Powder Room is adapted by Rachel Hirons from her play When Women Wee and stars Sheridan Smith as Sam, a kind-hearted but insecure young woman who's arranged to meet her posh old college friend Michelle (Kate Nash) and her seemingly perfect French colleague Jess (Oona Chaplin) for a girls' night out at a local nightclub. In order to impress Michelle, Sam tells both women a series of white lies, but the unexpected arrival of her three rowdy mates (Jaime Winstone as man-hungry Chanel, Sarah Hoare as mouthy Saskia and Riann Steele as goody-goody Paige) threatens to expose her deception, so she tries to keep the two groups apart. However, that isn't easy when all the girls spend so much time in the ladies' toilet ...

The Good
Sheridan Smith is superb, her likeable screen presence ensuring that we continually sympathise with Sam, even when she's behaving poorly towards her friends; she also finds a note of aching vulnerability and frustration that is genuinely moving. Jaime Winstone is equally good as straight-talking Chanel and there's amusing support from both Hoare and Steele, while Johnnie Fiori has a neat line in deadpan facial expressions as the seen-it-all-before toilet attendant.

The witty script is sharply observed throughout and the dialogue feels believable despite the increasingly farcical plot; the script also deserves points for not shoe-horning in a romantic element, allowing the focus to remain entirely on female friendships. In addition, there are a number of engaging toilet-based subplots (two younger girls who are thrilled with having passed for eighteen to get in; a girl who's accidentally turned up in fancy dress; a girl who's being pressured into having phone sex with her boyfriend) and a couple of inspired comic set-pieces, such as Paige and Saskia getting off their faces on MDMA and trying to wear the same clothes.

The Bad
The only real problem is that several of the scenes set outside the toilet (such as Sam going outside to have a cigarette) feel like padding, inserted purely to make the film appear less stagey. On top of that, the subplots feel slightly underdeveloped and could have been integrated more effectively.

Worth seeing?
Powder Room is an engaging and enjoyable British comedy with a strong comic cast and a commendable central message about female friendship. (The equivalent story set in a men's toilet would be an entirely different affair, consisting largely of monosyllables). Recommended.

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Content updated: 23/10/2017 16:03

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