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St. Trinian’s (2007)

by on 2011/09/25

“She who angers you, conquers you.”

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This month meditates on the hell that is school.

I should probably come clean about my own uneasy relationship with high school. The fact that I spent most of my time in my small, rural high school hiding in the library, reading the poems of Mao Tse-Tung (the library didn’t have many books), didn’t exactly make for smooth sailing with the ham-fisted jocks, platinum-haired popular girls and flannel-jacketed skids at my secondary school.

St. Trinian’s school for (bad) girls has tribes too – Posh Totty, Chavs, Emos, Geeks, and the First Years.

Each clique has a nefarious purpose. The Posh Totty are running a phone sex line, the Geeks are day trading their way toward world domination and the First Years are masterminding a criminal empire.

St. Trinian’s is a British girl’s school with a difference. Run by Camilla Fritton (Rupert Everett in drag), the school is driven by chaos and crime. It is all right there in the school anthem:

The battle’s to the strongest; might is always right. Trample on the weakest; glory in their plight.

 But it isn’t really as sinister as it sounds. Everyone, in fact, is having a rather lovely, stylish, uproarious time.  This 2007 British film was inspired by the cartoons of naughty, naughty school girls drawn by Ronald Searle – the emphasis here should rest on the word cartoons.

St. Trinian’s is a crowded little story that centres (mostly) around a rather bland young woman named Annabelle Fritton (Talulah Riley), niece of the outspoken headmistress of St. Trinian’s. Annabelle is fobbed off on this school of ill-repute by her shiftless father Carnaby Fritton (Rupert Everett).

Annabelle is tender, fresh meat in the halls of St. Trinian’s. Happily, it doesn’t take long for Annabelle to develop a taste for chaos herself.

Unfortunately, some squares don’t like the knickers-showing, howling Girl Power that is St. Trinian’s – namely hard-liner politician Geoffrey Thwaites (Colin Firth). Thwaites decides to up his political stock by exposing the evil of the riotous school and closing it down.

Someone must have really hated Colin Firth in the production of St. Trinian’s. While I’m not a huge fan of Mr. Firth, in the same way I’m not a big fan of Pablum, white bread and warm milk, I think he deserved better than the ignominy he suffered in St. Trinian’s. I submit for your consideration the following evidence:

  • Firth is found, pants down in a girl’s change room, scratching and breathing heavily.
  • He stretches nude at an open window after a night of amorous embraces with the alluringly horsey Camilla.
  • Firth’s leg is humped several times by a dog he later accidentally kills by kicking into a garden mulcher.

Poor, poor Mr. Milktoast, I mean Firth.

Even the great Stephen Fry sacrifices his dignity on the comedy altar in service of St. Trinian’s, playing an addled quiz show host.

Then there’s the other male role model in this tidal wave of estrogen, Flash (Russell Brand). I’ve never really understood the appeal of Mr. Booky Wook.  As the outside criminal connection for the girls of St. Trinian’s, he’s mildly funny in his signature puerile, low rent way, motivated by a rather unseemly affection for the head girl Celia (Gemma Arterton).

The overall result is a film that is very pretty to look at – the settings and clothes of each of the school’s distinctive cliques are elaborate and beautifully done.  However St. Trinian’s is a more crowded, goofy cartoon than a genuinely engaging film even though it has a Stephen Fry in it.

* * *

97 minutes

Rated PG13 for drug use, sexual situations and Russell Brand

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