Brit Picks: “St. Trinian’s School For Bad Girls”

Written by Sarah Townsend August 31, 2011

“We are the best, so screw the rest.  We do as we damn well please.  Until the end, St. Trinian’s!  Defenders of anarchy.”

‘St Trinian’s’ was in theatres in Britain in 2007 and completely missed coming to Canada despite its popularity in the UK.  I discovered it 2 years in a rather geeky way which I won’t discuss any further because of word count.  My friend and I made a girl’s night out of watching it and were laughing so hard that another friend from the apartment below us wanted to know what was happening.

In actuality, this is the sixth movie from a series that began in the 1950s.  Some of the traditional conventions from the original 5 are kept (such as the headmistress being played by a man) but otherwise this movie is treated as more of a reboot to the franchise than a continuation.

Alastair Sim as Headmistress Fritton in the original ‘The Belles of St. Trinian’s’

 

The story begins with Annabelle Fritton (Talulah Riley) being dropped off at St. Trinian’s by her could-care-less art dealer father (Rupert Everett).  Annabelle’s Aunt Camilla Fritton (also Rupert Everett) is the headmistress of St. Trinians’s and allows both teacher and pupil to run wild within the school.  At first left out of the school cliques: The Geeks, the Chavs, the Emos, the First Years or the Posh Totties (gorgeous upper year students who claim to have slept with members of the royal family) Annabelle eventually befriends Head Girl Kelly (Gemma Arterton).

At St. Trinian’s, the students make and sell vodka and repaint stolen cars (among other things) to middleman Flash Harry (Russell Brand) and the teachers take pride in teaching their students important Spanish phrases such as; “Honestly, Officer.  I’ve never seen them.  These aren’t my suitcases” – oh how this makes me wish I’d continued my language studies.  Despite the school chaos and the hostility that the students may have towards differing groups within the school, St. Trinian’s is a school that bands together, fights hard and plays hard.  There is a place for everyone here…if you are careful.

From left to right: Geek, Emo, Head Girl, Annabelle, and the three Posh Totties

 

Alas, this dysfunctional paradise soon becomes threatened by bankruptcy as well as the Education Minister, Geoffrey Thwaites (Colin Firth) who is planning on cleaning up the school system by starting with the worst of the worst; St. Trinian’s. Hilarity ensues as it soon becomes clear that Camilla and Geoffrey have shared quite a past together.  With Geoffrey determined to close St. Trinian’s down and Camilla just as determined to keep it running, the girls plan on paying back the ₤500,000 owed within 4 weeks – St. Trinian’s style.

Thus begins their brilliant plan, a heist.  The target? Girl With a Pearl Earring. Let the madness…get madder.

Is this movie unrealistic? Wildly.  Is it silly? Undeniably. However, the laughs are quite clever and the fun that the cast had while filming clearly shows.  The movie is full of British stars and a few up and comers as well including Gemma Arterton, Tamsin Egerton, Talulah Riley, and Juno Temple.  Lena Headey stars as a nerdy teacher and Stephen Fry hilariously plays a slightly drug addled version of himself, hosting a game show.

Class trip! Steal a painting?

 

The most fun to be had is in watching Rupert Everett, Colin Firth interact.  Everett plays Camilla with an interesting combination of – clearly a man wearing women’s clothes, mimicking Camilla Parker Bowles, and hilarious womanly wiles which at least partially work on Firth’s Geoffrey. She/He is the enforcer of dysfunction but also cares deeply for her pupils.  Geoffrey is a character who is quite like many of Firth’s usual characters, doing the right thing, up the straight and narrow, but he is still played well and with fun in several hilariously awkward scenes.

The beauty of ‘St. Trinian’s’ is that it knows exactly what it is and doesn’t try to be anything more.  It isn’t trying to be particularly intellectual or spiritually uplifting, nor does it aim for the Academy Awards.  It is far funnier than I first expected and has stood up to multiple viewings. For just a fun movie, it is very well done.

Miss Fritton woos Geoffrey Thwaites

 

‘St. Trinian’s’ is available on DVD in Canada.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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About Sarah Townsend

Sarah Townsend

Sarah Townsend: Senior Television Editor of We Eat Films and writer of the Brit Picks column. A fourth year English and History student at UWO, future plans include travelling with the Doctor in his TARDIS whenever he finds me. I'm still waiting...

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