Sam is on a night out – a reunion with old college friends. Drinks and a good old catch-up, it looks set to be a nice little evening. Only there is one slight obstacle..
Sam has created an elaborate façade to impress her old chums – she has told one massive lie about how “successful” she is in order to impress them. She’s a ‘lawyer’, ‘has a great boyfriend’, ‘brilliant social life’.. all seems to be going well – until her recent trio of dysfunctional best mates show up at the same club.
Now she’s in trouble. Because as well as trying to jump between one group and the other, Sam is about to face some very harsh realities in the process.
Booze will flow, knickers will fall, bottles will smash, tears will drop – and the shit is about to hit the fan (and floor) BIG time…
That was bloody hilarious. I honestly didn’t know what to expect, but Christ I’m glad I went to see it. Powder Room was non-stop dry comedy. I have always said – and stand by the fact – that women comedians are better than men, and this lot just proved it.
When Women Wee
Powder Room is based on the stage performance When Women Wee, which shifted from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival to the Soho Theatre in London; and when watched by producer Damian Jones, he decided to take it to the big screen.
Originally, the stage performance saw five young actresses play up to six different characters each.
I’m not surprised this was on stage originally. The overall genre of farce comedy would be superb in theatres. Also the element of actresses having to double up characters – three times! Genius.
Sheridan Smith – Sam
Jaime Winstone – Chanel
Kate Nash – Michelle
Oona Chaplin – Jess
Riann Steele – Paige
Alice Sanders – Mel
Sarah Hoare – Saskia
Johnnie Fiori – Toilet Attendant
Micha Balfour – James
Antonia Bernath – Kim
Bunmi Mojekwu – Louise
Elarica Gallacher - Jenny
From classic random conversation between two girls, to something as trivial as pocketing a stray pound coin you notice on the floor, Powder Room is incredibly observant. The tiniest of gestures and things which happen between female friends is plucked out of reality and stuck on screen for the audience to indulge in. And its all funny – because it all really does happen.
At one point, a blonde woman in her late thirties smashes through the door of the women’s toilet – squinty eyes half closed, confused expression on her face as she stumbles to a cubicle, slams the door shut, and collapses on the floor.. high-heels sticking out underneath the gap.. I LOL’d. I really did. Because although she was simply an extra in the background whilst two of the characters were indulging in conversation, she was a brilliant example of the classic older pissed woman you do genuinely find in nightclubs; facial expression, loud actions, etc. Fantastic.
Bangles In Camera Angles
Whilst the girlies are in the powder room attending to their make-up or jewellery (or – unfortunately in Chanel’s case – shaving her pussy with a blunt razor), we get unique camera angles from all around.
When one of them sticks her head in the sink, we get a view of her face from the plughole beneath the water. And whenever a character is in a cubicle, there is a nice birds-eye shot from above. The interesting use of camera angles & shots added to the overall atmosphere in the nightclub toilet, lending nicely to the dynamics – otherwise, we’d have been sat watching girls just standing there.
The movie continues with Sam ushering her snooty friends out of the powder room, just in time for her dysfunctional friends to come crashing in. It is very farcical – as one exits, one enters, etc. The blatant and often vulgar conversation continues, and at one point I actually wondered if Sam would ever get out of the bloody toilet!
At one point during a discussion about their social antics, Sam turns round and spots a girl – no more than eighteen – sat hunched in the corner of the room, behind the last cubicle. It is apparent she’s hiding from something – or someone – but its not clear who..
Kate Nash Didn’t Crash
When I noticed singer Kate Nash was part of the cast, I wasn’t sure what to think. I don’t mind her music (and to be honest, I have frequently stuck her single ‘Do-Wah-Doo’ on the jukebox in many Soho gay bars) – but would she deliver the goods in Powder Room?..
In a nutshell – she was brilliant. No Oscar-worthy performance as such, but she played snobby bitch Michelle very well. Sometimes seen snorting cocaine in one of the cubicles, but always seen with a drink in her hand, she struts about with bigger-bitch best friend Jess as the pair cast a daunting social shadow over Sam.
Nash was a BRIT school graduate, so I’m not surprised she can act as well as produce music. Apparently she was rejected from several drama schools and universities after graduation (A-HEM, join the queue, bitch)
I’m waiting for Lily Allen being put in a movie next..
Actress Rian Steele was my favourite. Her portrayal of South-East London naughty girl Paige was bloody hilarious.
We are introduced to her outside the nightclub as she stands waiting in the queue with her peers; shoving forkfuls of chips into her mouth from a paper bag. Standing there shivering in her wooly hat, she randomly bursts into a robot-dance in order to warm up.
As the movie continues, Paige’s best friend Mel announces she has “some MDMA left over from last week” in her bra. The pair rush into a cubicle and ingest the drug, resulting in hilarious consequences.. soon enough, Paige is wide-eyed and weird, sitting on the powder room floor covered in toilet paper.
The strange moments keep coming, and at one point whilst being on the drug, Paige sits against a cubicle wall and whispers to her friend, “..I’ve got an inverted nipple!” – Mel looks down her top and starts talking to the nipple in a soothing voice.
..the climax of the drug trip sees our two odd kids slowly rotating in the middle of the cubicle – both with bras on their heads, and somehow back-to-back together in the same t-shirt.
I literally howled with laughter, not just how ridiculous the situation was, but because some girls really DO get caught up in some weird shit when they’re off their faces.
The toilet attendant who appears throughout the movie is literally, a sitting duck. She sits by the door on her stool, watching the carnage unfold around her. The classic part of the furniture who remains silent, and observes – I can just imagine the character on stage. She may offer no hysterical dialogue like the other characters, but she’s every bit as important.
What I loved about her was her portrayal – yes – even a toilet attendant can be played out. Most of us have met them haven’t we; the second you open the toilet door in a club / bar, you’re faced by an attendant who is swamped in bottles of perfume & aftershave, lollipops and tissues..
The man or woman casually sits there, totally vacant look on their face as you go for a piss – and very rarely will you catch a genuine facial expression, until a fight kicks off or a hideously drunk person begins positioning themselves in compromising positions on the toilet floor.. and this is exactly what we got from Johnnie Fiori.
As the girls argue, dance, fight or even lay on the toilet floor, the toilet attendant looks up from time to time – raises her eyebrows – then looks away again. A few minutes later, she’ll look up again – frown with her mouth open in surprise – and then look away.
The character only adds to the hilarious atmosphere with “what the fuck?!” reactions, and is made even funnier just because – its true. These people exist, and the actress nailed it spot-on.
The Odd Couple
Earlier I mentioned the young girl sitting on the floor, hiding from someone. Later on, we find out exactly what’s going on..
Stacey is hiding in the toilet, awaiting the arrival of her friend Saskia. The second Saskia enters the toilet, they both erupt in hysterical giggling whilst jumping up and down.. because they both managed to get into the nightclub.
These two are fucking funny. Saskia’s constant facial expression which sees her mouth hanging open is brilliant, but gets even wider later on in the night when Stacey announces she’s spotted a man she wants to pull, but can’t – because Saskia is with her.
Moaning, “you’re with me – so me and him can’t talk or kiss an’ stuff“, Stacey basically palms her friend off as nicely as she can whilst being brutally honest. Another observation of real-life here; that situation when you meet someone in a bar, but can’t leave the person you’re with to go and chat them up.
A brief but hilarious moment between the pair is when Stacey stands screaming and shouting in the toilet about something – and when she finally stops, Saskia (open-mouthed) lazily asks, “..er – are you alright?!” when they girl is clearly not. I LOL’d.
The night continues with each female character getting gradually worse, the more drunk they get. And Sam’s predicament of being a ‘go-between’ for two sides of friends has become tense. She literally has a cigarette in the yard outside with her posh bitches – then announcing she’ll get the next drinks in – runs back into the club – and into the toilet to find her wacky but loyal crew.
Think the restaurant scene in Mrs. Doubtfire; where Robin Williams legs it back and forth between two meetings to keep both parties settled. And soon enough, Sam’s efforts come to an abrupt end when two completely different worlds collide – and an explosive face-off commences…
What Went Wrong
The main element that struck me as odd was Sheridan’s ability to wade in and out of ‘northerner’ and ‘cockney Londoner’ so freely. It seemed as though she was a full-on Londoner girl which was great, but at certain points as she was speaking, she went slightly Northern. Come on Shez, you’re playing one or the other – which is it?
The opening and closing credits were quite messy. I know this is a film based in a nightclub, but the sharp and jagged ‘cut-out’ words which show on screen are barely bloody readable. It brings up the actresses names at the beginning, and I sat there thinking, “what the frig does that say?”
There is one scene where a girl (earlier given sex tips by Sam in the smoking yard) sits on the toilet in a cubicle, on the phone to her boyfriend – simulating phone sex. And its just not funny. At all. Either this was a mistake by the script writer, or they picked totally the wrong actress, but the woman offered nothing even remotely comical.. very cringeworthy moment.
Two random girls enter the powder room; one dressed like a slut – the other like some sort of mutated infant (baby fancy dress outfit) – “you told me it was fancy dress” the humiliated girl shouts. To which her friend replies, “I said dress fancy”
Chanel offering Sam a heartfelt piece of relationship advice, by announcing a man “loves it” when a woman sticks her finger up his arse. (I know exactly what she means – and I’m not surprised more straight guys are getting shagged up the arse than gay guys these days)
Random drunk lady in toilet cubicle laying on the floor and cannot seem to get up
Paige: “..my life is shit and you guys are the cherry on a big piece of shit cake”
Sam sat on toilet, listening to a girl on the phone to her boyfriend screaming and moaning stressfully – and processing the realisation that some people’s lives may not be as rosy as they make out..
Overall, Powder Room is fantastic. A deliciously accurate portrayal of real life, with an observational attitude to be admired. Gift-wrapped with an engaging script and wickedly funny characters, its a bloody gem of a movie. Sometimes raw honesty can be funny – because we can relate to it.
And yes, girls can be yucky in the bathroom too..