School for Seduction
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir Sue Heel
scr Sue Heel, Martin Herron
with Kelly Brook, Emily Woof, Dervla Kirwan, Margi Clarke, Jessica Johnson, Nicola Blackwell, Daymon Britton, Neil Stuke, Tim Healy, Nick Whitfield, Ben Porter, Jake Canuso
release UK 3.Dec.04
04/UK 1h45

Group hijinks: The girls have a laugh at Britton.

brook woof kirwan
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school for seduction Clearly trying to be Sex and the City meets The Full Monty, this cheery British comedy is quite watchable, even if the lack of budget and filmmaking experience shows. Set in Newcastle, we follow a group of lovelorn women attending a seduction course taught by the sexy Italian Sophia (Brook). Kelly (Woof) is struggling with two jobs and a surly teen daughter (Blackwell). Clare (Kirwan) is a professional woman whose loutish husband (Stuke) cares only about his precious Alfa Romeo. Chip shop cook Irene (Clarke) works is trying to spice up her marriage to Derek (Healy). And Kelly's pal Donna (Johnson) wants to seduce Irene and Derek's son (Britton), who's home from university. Throw in a loutish boss (Whitfield), a macho ex-husband (Canuso) and a transvestite (Porter).

Yes, director-cowriter Heel clearly has something against men! Not a single one escapes criticism--they're all selfish, insensitive pigs, while the vivacious women around them are all trying to make life better. It's surprising how unbalanced the film is in this area. Sure, it has a good point, but even the story's nicest guy makes some thoughtless mistakes (and gets humiliated in the now-requisite "locked out of the house naked just when Mum and Dad arrive home" scene).

The cast is quite good, in an undemanding sort of way. Brook just about carries off her character, which is scripted with an obvious fatal flaw that we just wait to arrive. Meanwhile, there's a marvellous sense of camaraderie between the women that almost makes it feel like a seasoned sitcom. And Heel uses the Newcastle setting well (although perhaps tries too hard to make sure all the landmarks are within view). So it's a pity that she simplifies the issues, settling for either silly hijinks or teary emotion when something edgier would have made the film a lot more telling. And funnier! Her central point is very compelling--that seduction isn't about pleasing men, but pleasing yourself. So why is she so quick to abandon it for mere romantic goofiness?

cert 12 themes, language, innuendo 27.Jan.04

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... school for seduction Sammy Friar, Yorkshire: 5/5 "I think this film is excellent. the cast members are great, especially Daymon Britton (Robson Greens nephew), and its set in and around Newcastle. i would recommend the film for everyone to go and see. 100% great fun." (23.Nov.04)

Richy, Newcastle: 5/5 "I really enjoyed this film, which portrays Newcastle as the great city it is! Excellent performances by all the cast, especially from Sharon Percy who play Karen, one of the Asda girls. Go see this film!" (4.Dec.04)

2004 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall