Palatable: Gregory’s Girl

Gregory’s Girl (1980)

Written and directed by Bill Forsyth
Produced by Davina Belling, Clive Parsons
Starring John Gordon Sinclair, Robert Buchanan, Graham Thompson, Billy Greenlees, Dee Hepburn, Jake D’Arcy, Clare Grogan, Alan Love, Caroline Guthrie, Carol Macartney, Douglas Sannachan, Allison Forster, Chic Murray, John Bett, Alex Norton, Dave Anderson

Synopsis

His unrequited crush on his secondary school’s sportive star striker (Hepburn) prepossesses a zanily ungainly student (Sinclair) who’s more girl-crazy than his eccentric friends (Buchanan, Greenlees, Thompson), but too clueless to find romance without help from his sagacious sister (Forster) and female peers (Guthrie, Macartney, Grogan), who’ve a clearer perspective than he of his prospects.

Script

Quirks of characters and consequences constitute most of Forsyth’s affable humor throughout his gentle yet earthy charmer, which is slimly plotted but so entertaining that most won’t mind or notice.

Direction

Forsyth sets his shots with commonplace skill, but draws eye and attention with panning and tracking shots, as one oscillating to follow Sinclair and Forster revolving on a playground’s carousel.

Cinematography

Rich and restrained colors mesh through Michael Coulter’s lenses, even during a few fuzzy shots.

Editing

Most of John Gow’s splices are inconspicuously sensible, but some conversations are overcut to insinuate a certain dubiety regarding Forsyth’s blocking.

Histrionics

As goofy, gawky, gangly Gregory, naturalistically twitchy Sinclair secured a funny footnote in the annals of British cinema. Dully pretty Hepburn, toothily exuberant Buchanan and sardonic Greenlees are fun foils to their lovable leading man. Murray understatedly steals a couple of scenes when his stern headmaster indulges cibarious and pianistic passions.

Score

Colin Tully’s saxy, reedy arrangements are typical of MOR in the ’70s and ’80s, and his upbeat music is of a sort that most probably prefer to Muzak when waiting on hold.

Highlights

A contrast between precocious, enterprising preteens (such as Forster’s junior sibling) and the oversexed, excitable teenagers who they jeer produces some hilarious incidents. Anecdotes of his sexual adventures are recounted by a young window washer (Sannachan) to admiring upperclassmen. Buchanan repeatedly, ridiculously fails to chat with schoolmates of the opposite sex by reciting revolting factoids.

Flaws

Only a few half-flubbed lines and excessively edited scenes are noticeable.

Conclusion

Forsyth’s popular comedic classic is satisfyingly silly and sentimental, a sweetly simple fiction of awkward adolescence in all its bubbly, breathless glory. Scotland’s rightly renowned for its provincial humor and proud of movies like this, in which it’s enjoyably exhibited.