“Women disappear into the toilet for 25 minutes at a time, what the f*ck are they doing?” This is how MJ Delaney sums up her first feature film Powder Room, an adaptation of the play When Women Wee. The film follows Sam (Sheridan Smith) on a night out in London with a couple of posh friends (played by Kate Nash and Oona Chaplin). She is trying to live up to their tales of fancy parisian life when her actual friends (Jaime Winstone, Riann Steele and Sarah Hoare), show up in the club too, drunk and dishevelled. The rest of the night is a game of cat and mouse in and out of the club, but all the revelations, fights and decisions happen in that all-important place: the ladies’ bathroom.
Despite its all-star cast, Powder Room definitely feels real and close to home: no Hollywood gloss-over here, it could be happening down your street. It’s very funny, and the girl power present on set during their 19-day shoot certainly translates onscreen in the dynamic within the group(s) of friends. Sheridan Smith keeps Sam likeable despite her sometimes questionable behaviour; actually, she is perhaps the most relatable of the lot. And as a French person, I just have to mention how good Oona Chaplin is. Her character lives in Paris and her little quips in French were just perfect. The soundtrack is energetic and the performers, FakeClub, steal the show in their few seconds onscreen. Even better, the other artists featured in the film are mostly yet unsigned bands found on SoundCloud… Here’s to hoping this gives them a much-deserved boost!
On top of the fun aspect of all the gossip going on in the bathroom, I really enjoyed the contrast between the image the girls try to project in front of their friends and the reality that you see in that space – the bathroom is where they hide to cry, take drugs and fight with their husbands on the phone. This atmosphere of constant comparison and almost competition for the most “accomplished” life is very current.
This is a film about women, written and directed by women but not just for women. Everyone can enjoy a comedy and hey, I’m first in line for everything Marvel. All in all it is a lesson in not giving a shit and enjoying what you have with the people you like.
Powder Room is released in UK cinemas on 6 December.