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Top Spot
cast: Elizabeth Crawford, Laura Curnick, Kate Foster-Barnes, Helen Laker, and Kieri Noddings

director: Tracey Emin

63 minutes (18) 2004
Tartan DVD Region 0 retail

RATING: 6/10
reviewed by Gary Couzens
Top Spot is an autobiographically-inspired short feature directed by artist Tracey Emin. Set in Margate, where she grew up, the film follows a group of six teenage (14 to 16 years) girls and their experiences with boys. Helen hides a love-bite while another is in love with the boy who fingered her on the funfair. She believes that he's in Egypt with the Foreign Legion when everyone knows he's actually in Borstal. Lizzie thinks it's okay to be a slag while Katie was raped on New Year's Eve.

When it sticks with its central group of teenage girls, Top Spot (named for both the local nightclub/ meat market and the act of touching the neck of the womb with the penis during sex) is an involving and sometimes powerful work. Shot in a combination of digital video and grainy Super-8, it rings very true. There's a genuine anger at how these girls are treated, and what expectations (whether to be a slag or a prude) are made of them. At the end of the film, a secret harboured by one of them has terrible consequences and the group is not the same since. The film is flawed but some unnecessary and rather arty digressions, the silliest of which is the ending, where Emin flies over Margate in a helicopter and drops bombs on the town. Otherwise, this would be a useful film to anyone who is the parent or teacher of a girl of this age - except for the ludicrous '18' certificate that the BBFC have given the film. This is due to a scene depicting an 'unusual' method of suicide (which we don't see anyway, only the aftermath). A '15' certificate (given that there is some strong language in the script) would be much more appropriate.

The DVD is in the original 4:3 ratio, with a Dolby surround soundtrack. This review was from a timecoded DVD-R that lacked the extras which are on the final disc, but these are: a commentary by Emin, some short featurettes (Riding For A Fall, Costumes, I'm A Believer), an interview, production stills and the Tartan trailer reel.
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