Erin’s Guide To Kissing Girls: Raindance 22 Review. By Joe Muldoon.
Based on the 2018 short of the same name, Erin’s Guide To Kissing Girls is Julianna Notten’s latest directorial feature. Recently having enjoyed a European premiere at the Raindance Festival as well as going on to win 2 awards at other festivals, it’s a charming queer coming-of-age drama, and one I predict will very likely be greatly enjoyed by its prospective young audience.
With the thunderous success of dramas such as Dear Simon and Heartstopper, and the impressive LGBTQ+ representation in Sex Education, it’s safe to say that Erin’s Guide To Kissing Girls is the right film at the right time. ”I want to use my voice as a filmmaker to tell the stories of those who aren’t often represented in the media”, says Notten, and she has succeeded in doing so with her latest work.
In their impressive breakout film role, Elliot Stocking plays the titular Erin, a gay middle-schooler, and the only out person in her year group. Joining Erin amongst the characters are Liz, her fellow comic book nerd and best friend (played by Jesyca Gu), and Sydni, the new girl in school who finds herself in Erin’s eyes (played by Rosali Annikie). The plot is sweet and simple: as their time as middle-schoolers draws to a close, Erin and Liz’s friendship is challenged by Liz’s acceptance to a private school and by Erin’s infatuation with new girl Sydni.
“Do you even know if she likes girls?”, asks Liz of Erin upon her declaring her growing crush, before the camera pans to show Sydni wearing a crystal necklace, a tarot shirt, Doc Martens, reading a copy of Virginia Woolf’s Orlando – the smatterings of humour throughout didn’t fail to elicit a few chuckles from me. Stocking, Gu, and Annikie have genuine chemistry together, and their performances as teens going through the awkward transition into the final stages of school feel real.
As far as coming-of-age dramas go, Erin’s Guide To Kissing Girls is nothing new, but that’s the point; all teenagers face the same struggles with identity, interpersonal relationships, and growing up – queer or not. As a heterosexual man, the film wasn’t made from me – I’m far from its clear intended target audience. To me as an audience member, this was simply a pleasant indie drama, but to its prospective teen audience, it’s a highly important piece of representation of queer adolescence, and one that deserves to be seen.
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