After a knockout performance in Booksmart earlier this year, Beanie Feldstein is back at centre stage as the star of How to Build a Girl. Feldstein cranks up her charm meter to 1000% to play a hapless 16-year old high school student. Director Coky Giedroyc’s coming-of-age dramedy suffers from sticking to too many of the genre’s tropes, but Feldstein’s performance alone is worth the price of admission.
How to Build a Girl sees Feldstein play Johanna Morrigan, a girl from a working-class family who yearns for something more from life. She dreams of being swept off her feet in a fair-tale style romance, but her prospects range from bad to worse.
To improve her sad life, Johanna relies on her best asset, her big beautiful brain, and applies for (and lands) a job as a music critic. Before long she has the life she always wanted; taking plane rides and partying with rock stars. But soon enough, Johanna gets too full of herself and becomes an attention-seeking critic with no regard for artists’ feelings.
How to Build a Girl is Almost Famous-lite. It’s a similar story but told at 1/100th the scale. Given the over-the-top subject matter, the film feels quite small. But what the film lacks in spectacle it makes up for with funny jokes and earnest performances. Lady Bird this is not, but there are enough standout moments to win over viewers. Giedroyc creates a wish-fulfillment tale that will resonate strongest with the teenage YouTuber/Instagram influencer generation.