Review of “How to Have Sex”: A Lesson in Consent for Partygoers


Molly Manning Walker’s debut film is a high-energy, enjoyable ride filled with silly jokes and strong performances. It follows three teenage girls on a holiday in Malia, Crete, as they try to avoid thinking about their upcoming exam results, which could be texted to them at any moment by their tactless parents. The film features a standout performance from Mia McKenna-Bruce as the shyest of the group, Tara, whose emotions are subtly portrayed in closeup shots. For her, the pursuit of sex holds more significance than for her friends, as she has yet to experience it. Manning Walker skillfully navigates the film’s tone, shifting towards crisis and then pulling back.

Tara, also known as Taz, and her friends Skye and Em arrive and book a room with a view of the pool at a resort on Malia’s main street. At night, the street is vibrant with loud neon lights and drunkenness, but during the day it is eerily empty, resembling a setting for a western gunfight.

One morning, Tara is feeling extremely hungover on her balcony when she notices a young man on the balcony next to hers looking at her. This man is Badger, who is accompanied by his friends. He can tell that Tara is feeling lonely and desperate to have sex, but she wants it to happen with the right person. Unlike exams, there are no second chances for this moment. Unfortunately, Badger puts himself firmly in the friend zone with Tara in many different ways, and their relationship is complicated because they both may desire friendship more. Tara ends up going for a walk on the beach with Badger’s friend Paddy, who is more attractive but also rude and insensitive. Meanwhile, Em strikes up a connection with a gay girl named Paige in the boys’ restroom.

However, as the situation involving Paddy progresses, amidst the non-stop wild parties and nightclub events organized by artificially cheerful representatives, the specific outcome of the event is left uncertain. Even the title itself carries multiple interpretations. With playful concealment of envy, Skye inquires about Tara’s experience: “Did he treat you roughly?” Did he really? Does Tara want to remember it that way? Or does she want to forget it altogether? The issue of consent remains ambiguous. The movie suggests that Tara’s thoughts after the sexual encounter are filled with inner reflection: should she let it go and move on? This film is refreshingly unsentimental, avoiding the cliches of a typical coming-of-age story. It is a story in which the three main characters emerge stronger and happier than before.

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