Lacklustre comedy set in a women's toilet starring Sheridan Smith, Kate Nash and Oona Chaplin
Based on Rachel Hirons’ 2011 Edinburgh Fringe Festival hit When Women Wee, which unfolded as a series of vignettes, the film instead opts for a more conventional approach by following one woman and her friends over the course of a disastrous evening. Sam (Sheridan Smith) is looking to impress two ‘sophisticated’ new friends, Michelle (Kate Nash) and Jess (Oona Chaplin), but does so at the expense of her regular crowd, led by the brash Chanel (Jaime Winstone). As her behaviour becomes ever more erratic and the lies mount, Sam soon finds her life beginning to unravel and desperately attempts to cling to her sanity.
A strong central performance from Smith, who combines some nice comic timing with more dramatic moments, makes first-time director Delaney’s film watchable. But as a whole Powder Room struggles to escape its theatrical origins (Sheridan’s big breakdown scene looks and feels staged), while other parts unfold like a bad TV sitcom. Delaney attempts to compensate by throwing in some flashy visuals and breaking scenes up with one or two live musical interludes from the group Fake Club but neither ploy can paper over the film’s many shortcomings, which extend to contrived plotting and heavy-handed message-making about accepting who you are.
Even the comedy feels forced and obvious, with one extended sequence where the two girls get high feeling as if it's been borrowed from countless other movies about drug-taking. For all its well-meaning intent, Powder Room struggles to keep you engaged.
General release from Fri 6 Dec.