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October 9, 2009
Review - " St Trinians "  -  (in theaters) By Roland Hansen
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I had been aware of this film and had wanted to see it. I was waiting for the DVD release.The star of this movie is really Talulah Riley yet her
name doesn't even appear on the US movie poster. Who? Talulah Riley. American audiences know her only as the middle Bennet sister,
Mary, from 2005 Delta Award winning theatrical release of "Pride and Prejudice". The poster touts Colin Firth (and rightfully so - he has a
major part and his character is central to the story) and Mischa Barton (who's bit part is so minor you might even miss it if you happen to go
for popcorn or bathroom break during her 2 minutes of screen time). I suspect this movie was pushed out to America because St Trinian's 2
just wrapped filming and they're hoping to generate enthusiasm in the US market. They're not going to manage that selling just 20 tickets
per theater.

The storyline was far-fetched, but you can’t expect much else from a rather camp film about tearaway teenagers.  St Trinian’s school is a
dumping ground for “ungovernable” girls, under the very liberal (almost anarchic) Camilla Fritton, ably played by Rupert Everett in drag.  As
with any school, the girls are immediately typecast into social groups (The Posh Totty group, The Geeks, The Emos, etc).  This is not a film
for realistic social commentary, but comedy was often extracted from the social groupings in fairly intelligent ways.

Crucial to the success of this endeavour is Rupert Everett in the Sim-like double role of a dragged up headmistress, Miss Fritton, and her
brother Carnaby. With a riot of outlandish costumes - Elizabethan garb to pink jumpsuit - and bunny-like front teeth, Camilla Fritton seems
inspired as much by her namesake the Duchess of Cornwall as Sim's creations half a century ago. As executive producer Everett sprinkles
the script with in-jokes; in one heat of a school quiz the girls are up against Ampleforth, his own school.

In Colin Firth as the education minister, Everett has the perfect 'straight man' to spark off. Firth, for his part, has his entire career sent up
mercilessly. He gets his leg humped by a small dog called Mr Darcy (Pride & Prejudice and Bridget Jones), chucked into a fountain (Bridget
Jones: Edge Of Reason), becomes involved with Vermeer's Girl With A Pearl Earring and, most mirthfully of all, has a slo-mo shot in a wet
white shirt, a recreation of the endlessly discussed moment from Pride & Prejudice.

We see the school initially through the eyes of Carnaby's daughter Annabelle, the new girl in the school played by the excellent Talulah
Riley. Essentially dumped in the place to save on school fees, the straight-laced newbie is swiftly indoctrinated into St Trinian's ways,
eventually discovering her inner hellraiser and becoming an integral part of a convoluted plot to save the school (which involves winning a
quiz hosted by Stephen Fry, stealing a painting from the National Gallery and pimping Brand's Flash Harry off as a gay German art dealer,
(amongst much else). She starts off channelling her inner Mary Bennet but is eventually made over into any old dodgers fantasy of the
naughty schoolgirl complete with ultra short mini skirt, gartered stockings, and bust enhancing vest.

Lily Cole, in her big-screen debut, gets a sizeable part as head of the geeks and acquits herself well as a sort of female, ginger haired Harry

The chief figure of authority in the school is the Head Girl Kelly, played by newcomer Gemma Arterton.  She appears to mastermind a
complex system of moneymaking, with the girls mass-producing a brand of potent vodka and then trying to flog it to dense wheeler-dealer
Flash Harry (the perfectly-cast Russel Brand).  The girls are trying to diversify their industry, introducing Flash to their latest product
(tampons) with comic effect. She pitches her performance perfectly between authority and anarchy, her character running rings around
Brand's Flash Harry and somehow marshalling the girls and the teachers as only she can in her efforts to save the school from closure at
Firth's hand.

The main plot-line follows the school’s financial uncertainty.  The school is served a notice of bankruptcy, and the girls take it upon
themselves to make £500,000 to stake the school by stealing a painting from the National Gallery.  In a plot-line clearly devised just to get
Stephen Fry starring, the girls have to get to the finals of “Schools Challenge”, a quiz-show somewhere between University Challenge and

The sub-plot was far more interesting for someone of a few years
older and of the opposite gender to the target audience.  Newly
appointed Minister for Education wishes to reform the education
system, starting with the very worst school: St Trinian’s.  Colin Firth
brings his typical je ne sais quoi to the film, along with as many
Pride and Prejudice gags as you can get your hands on.  
Ms Fritton’s dog (naturally called Mr Darcy) likes to hump the
minister’s leg, leading to an entertaining gift for the attending
press pack.  In another scene, he is caught with his trousers down
in front of the “Posh Totty” clique; cue a slapstick sequence of
being thrown from a window into a swimming pool, then a trademark
“Wet Shirt” scene.  It is a testament to the BBC adaptation of Pride
and Prejudice (and, indeed, to Firth’s performance in it).

Besides the affore mentioned Colin Firth references there are
several other tie-ins to various Brit films - most notably Pride and
Prejudice. Of course the film stars Talulah Riley - Mary Bennet from
Pride and Prejudice. One of the questions on the TV quiz show asks
about a Jane Austen novel originally titled "First Impressions" which
of course is her most famous work P&P. Anna Chancellor plays one of the teachers. She has been noted for her work as Caroline Bingley in
the 1995 BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, and as Questular Rontok in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. In another H2G2
reference 'Dont Panic' can be seen written on a wall at St Trinians school and later in a newspaper headline after "The Girl With a Pearl
Earring" painting is stolen. A particularly dim-witted girl mistakes the painting for a portrait of Scarlett Johansson. ‘No wonder Colin Firth
wanted to shag her' she says. And for Harry Potter - When Anna first gets to St Trinian's she declares: "Daddy, you can't expect me to stay
here. It's like Hogwarts for Pikeys!" (also It was reported that both Bonnie Wright (Ginny) and Katie Leung (Cho) had auditioned for parts in
the sequel to St. Trinian's 2, The Legend of Fritton's Gold - but I guess they weren't up to St Trinian's stringent standards). Being an
uncouth American I probably missed many other in-jokes and references to BBC productions.

So, there was something in St Trinian’s for everyone.  There was a silly plot-line involving save-the-day schoolkids for the girls to enjoy,
enough adult jokes to entertain the middle-aged, and more female flesh than should be allowed (including a daring scene with a shower,
stolen clothes, and a number of “hidden” cameras). If anything there's almost too much crammed in to this film. With the potential for a
series, it's as if the team behind it wanted to get everything done and dusted in one film in case follow-ups wouldn't be forthcoming.
Consequently the gags come and go and some of the cast, notably the teachers played by Toby Jones and Lena Headey, seem to exist
only to have things done to them.
St Trinians field hockey team with talulah Riley
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St Trinians
Directed by:
Starring: Talulah Riley, Gemma Atherton, Mischa Barton,
Colin Firth, Rupert Everett, Lily Cole, Lena Headley, Anna
Chancellor, Russel Brand, Stephen Fry

I was fortunate enough last night to attend a private
screening of the British comedy "St Trinian's". It wasn't
intended to be a private screening but I was literally the only
one in the theater. "St Trinian's" was filmed and released in
the UK in 2007. It was released here in the US Friday
October 9 (The day I happened to see it). It got limited
release which generally means just NY & LA or possibly a
few arthouses but this one was at my local cineplex out in
the boonies which never shows 'limited release' flix. St
Trinians was released with zero advertising, zero publicity,
and absolutely no advance notice. It grossed a total of
$15,000 in 76 theaters across the US - a mere $196 per
theater. And to think - without me it would have only
managed $14,490. I happened across it when I was looking
up the movie times for this weekends #1
"Couples Retreat".  
Above: Talulah Riley as Mary Bennett

Right: Talulah Riley as Annabelle when she
first shows up at St Trinian's School for
Young Ladies

Far right: Talulah as Annabelle after her
St Trinians naughty schoolgirls in full vamp mode
It's a gloriously un-PC film, which concerns some and
delights others. The film is aimed at a younger audience
and glorifies underage drinking, drug-taking, bomb-
making, bullying, cheating, promiscuity, stupidity, verbal
abuse, anarchy, vandalism, the use of guns in schools and
the sexual objectification of minors. It also has some bad

If you want an Oscar-winning piece of art, don’t see St
Trinian’s.  But if you want a bit of camp fun with a plot more
holey than Mother Theresa, a Gatling gun joke rate, and a
wide spectrum of entertainment, then it’s well worth a
tenner.  It’s a very well-made film, and very entertaining.  
It’s no masterpiece, but it doesn't pretend to be.