TIFF 2023: Our Review of ‘How to Have Sex’

Posted in TIFF 2023 by - September 16, 2023
TIFF 2023: Our Review of ‘How to Have Sex’

How To Have Sex is a disturbing but uneven look at the insidious dangers of Rape Culture. Set in Crete, it follows three teenage best friends from Britain who’ve gone on holiday to celebrate the end of their exams. When the girls arrive in Greece, they’re hungry for French fries, sex, and shots in equal measure. The friends even jokingly buy a prize for the person who “gets laid” the most.

A seasoned cinematography and new director, Molly Manning Walker has created a visually stunning film. Unfortunately, the screenplay (also by Walker), often feels superficial. While the film explores the ubiquity of Rape Culture by depicting disturbing and realistic scenes of sexual assault, it doesn’t show us anything new.

When we meet the trio, Taz (Mia McKenna-Bruce), described as “a massive virgin,” is on a mission to sleep with someone for the first time. Meanwhile, straight-A student Em (Enva Lewis) and party girl Skye (Lara Peake) cheer their bestie on while drinking themselves sick. Neither Em nor Skye receive much meaningful character development, and merely serve as foils for their less academic virgin friend.

While Molly Manning Walker’s technical skill behind a camera makes her a director to watch, I wouldn’t recommend watching How to Have Sex. Survivors of sexual assault in particular may find the film triggering. And while triggering art can still be worth seeing, the story lacks the catharsis of a a satisfying climax. Ultimately, it’s a film with good intentions that doesn’t hit the mark.

This post was written by
Sarah Sahagian is a feminist writer based in Toronto. Her byline has appeared in such publications as The Washington Post, Refinery29, Elle Canada, Flare, The Toronto Star, and The National Post. She is also the co-founder of The ProfessionElle Society. Sarah holds a master’s degree in Gender Studies from The London School of Economics. You can find her on Twitter, where she posts about parenting, politics, and The Bachelor.
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