Premièred by Paramount Pictures Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging By Gurinder Chadha, Paul Mayeda Berges, Will McRobb and Chris Viscardi.
Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging made me goo myself. Quite frequently. It’s as if someone made Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging especially for me. Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging is not my favourite film, and I wouldn’t give Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging a ten, but Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging is the most precise, accurate and satisfying depiction of the film I’ve always wanted to see.
Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging takes place in Eastbourne, which Georgia Nicholson describes as “the new Brighton”. To be honest, I thought it was Brighton. But that would be one perfection too far. Nevertheless, Eastbourne is sea-side, and the Great British coast is as perfect as it gets for high school romance. The high bombardment of positive ions puts everyone in a certain mood that explains at least half the title.
Next, there’s Aaron Johnson, before he became Taylor-Johnson. Before he was Kick-Ass or Quicksilver-by-name, he was ordinary. Here, he isn’t built-up to be a cover image. He was seventeen when he made this, and I’ve got to say, he’s more convincing here than anything he did after it. And I don’t say that just because this is more grounded in reality than being a vigilante crime-fighter.
But what’s so perfect about Johnson is that he not only has perfect chemistry with Georgia Groome, but that he’s the definitive image of late-teen fantasy. Not just in his appearance – though that’s immediately apparent from his first shot – but in his body language; a carefree amateur. At times it’s a little bit forced, and he’s played-up a bit as a Manic Pixie Dream Boy, but Nicholson’s story is very much about the images placed-on people. Too many romantic plots forget that just because a choice is made by the protagonist, that doesn’t make it right. Nicholson’s treatment toward Robbie Jennings doesn’t make her a bad person. She makes the wrong choices, and she’s idolistic, but those things are present to allow character growth. It doesn’t matter if a character chooses a certain path, so long as they understand it by the end. And Nicholson comes to understand it with Jennings’ help, though that’s mostly him also being proactive.
But make no mistake, Nicholson’s manipulative nature is addressed, and it’s woven into the story without being preached. There’s enough room for development, and it’s clear that what Nicholson says and does is often ironic.
Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging is not a story about love. Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging is about how we deal with any kind of feeling. Nicholson seeks out validation from the source of her affection, and when it isn’t met, she lashes-out psychologically, as if that makes things better. But I applaud Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging for not finger-wagging at the audience. Instead, it understands that these people are only teenagers and takes us on a journey of self-betterment and learning.
Nowhere else is this embodied than in Peter Dyer, who gives kissing lessons for five pounds. Which is the actual creepiest thing I’ve ever heard of. As it happens, he’s the only character who isn’t in a comfortable relationship by the end.
Chada, and the characters she directs, seem to have gone inside my mind and recreated the mental constructs that I’ve long imagined. It’s almost sinister. But I applaud everyone involved for the effort. What makes Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging stand out is that the characters are supposed to make mistakes, they’re supposed to get them over and done with. And in that way, it’s optimistic to be the point of being heart-warming. Even if the main attraction is Aaron Johnson snogging people.