How to Have Sex Review

Trigger Warning – There are mentions of rape in this review.

When I was in high school, Spring Break was a big deal. I only was able to experience it through MTV’s Spring Break programming but I had a few friends who had experienced it firsthand. While their stories were more about ending up sleeping in their car and not finding a place to stay, the young ladies in How to Have Sex are preparing to have the best holiday of their lives.

Courtesy of Mubi

Tara played beautifully by Mia McKenna-Bruce, is the inexperienced one in a group of three young ladies. Her friends, Sky and Em, played by Lara Peake and Enva Lewis, seem to be more outgoing than Tara and are ready to have as much fun as they can. On the Greek party resort of Malia, the girls are ready to have their best holiday ever before the new school year begins. It seems like this is the last time the three of them will get to enjoy this time as Em will be leaving for college soon.

As the girls get settled in their room, Tara meets Badger, played by Shaun Thomas. Badger is a dirty-blond-haired boy with a big tattoo of lips on his neck. He calls out to Tara and playfully flirts with her while his friends are also getting ready to enjoy what the resort has to offer. Sky notices the playful banter and interjects by being flirty in her way. The two groups of friends decide to get together and go out and enjoy the nightlife of the city.

Now this could have just been a movie about young people hanging out, over-drinking, and having sex but the movie focuses more on the experience that Tara is having. It feels like she is new to this and wants to have fun but is awkward with her interactions with others. You can see the chemistry between her and Badger growing but she is unsure of how to proceed with her feelings towards him.

Courtesy of Mubi

Badger seems to have been to a few of these events but is a little awkward at times and looks like he’s experiencing things for the first time with Tara. Tara and Badger play some of the hotel games together and are becoming close and Sky decides to out Tara by hinting she is a virgin during one of the party games. Embarrassed by this Tara distances herself from her friends and during another night of partying, Badger volunteers for a game that is a little more sexual than the other games. Seeing this Tara feels hurt and decides to walk away from the party.

What happens next is told through a series of flashbacks until the story catches up to the present time. After having a little too much to drink, Tara tries to reunite with her friends and is taken to the beach by someone that she knows. Here she is assaulted by this person and ends up wandering the streets unaware of how to deal with what just happened.

In today’s society where boys have instant access to pornography and don’t talk to other men about what they are feeling, their views on sex are misconstrued. They may feel that what they are doing is ok but in reality, it is not. How to Have Sex shows us that communication is important and must surpass the feeling of being a killjoy or a snitch. Tara feels that letting others know what happened to her will ruin the mood and their holiday together so she decides to stay quiet. Sadly, this quietness leads to her assailant attempting more harm to Tara.

How to Have Sex is a movie that will have people talking afterward and questioning what should have been done and not done. This movie should be required viewing for teens because it can lead to some great discussions and also help young men know the importance of consent. As a parent, I will watch this with my children when they are of age and talk to them about what they saw.

Final Thoughts: How to Have Sex is a cautionary tale about trusting those around you and being able to talk to your friends. Through Tara, we see how wanting to fit in can filter what you think is right and what you think should be done. In today’s world where consent is a must, How to Have Sex shows us that there are still many men out there who do not know what is right and feel that what they are doing is ok. How to Have Sex shows us the loss of innocence and the aftermath of these assaults.

Kid-Friendly: Due to the subject matter of this movie I would not recommend it to anyone younger than 16. Parents, I suggest you watch this movie with your teens and discuss consent and why speaking up is more important than being quiet.

Violence: This is no violence in terms of fighting or anything of that sort but the scenes when the assault takes place is difficult to watch in the way that they are filmed.

It’s supposed to be the best summer ever. Tara, Skye and Em touch down on the Greek party resort of Malia for the vacation to end all vacations, the girls trip every British teenager ticks off at the cusp of adulthood. Tara, the last remaining virgin, is on a mission to change that: and her best friends are causing chaos right alongside her. The 16-year-old drinks and dances her way through the strip – with all its messy bars and grimy nightclubs – until she meets a couple of boys on the neighboring hotel balcony who she hopes might give her a summer to remember.

Making her debut feature with a vibrant, compassionate look at sex, friendship, consent and the sweet smell of a boozy sunburned summer holiday, director and cinematographer Molly Manning Walker (Scrapper, Good Thanks, You?) paints an exhilarating, moving, and painfully familiar portrait of young adulthood. 

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