Perfect 10 (2019)

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There is nothing epic about this film; it tells a small story of a teenage girl struggling to survive abandonment but it feels real and universal.

What is remarkable about this film is that it is the first feature for director Eva Riley and lead Alfie Deegan and only the second for Frankie Box. Box plays Leigh, a 14 year old whose mother has gone, we presume she has died, and she lives with her father (William Ash) who barely remembers she is there. Gymnastics is her thing but she can’t even do that well at the moment, overwhelmed by anxiety and the bullying of other girls at the gym and despite the personal attention of coach Gemma (Sharlene Whyte).

When it seems that life can’t get any harder, a half-brother Joe (Deegan) comes to stay, something that her dad had failed to ever mention. At first Joe is the target for her anger and frustration but his brash charm and unflinching friendship eventually gets past her defenses.

The narrative feels familiar – gobby teenager, angry at the world, learns to accept love – but it is elevated by the completely believable performance of Box. Plucked from a gym during casting, she has all the right gymnastic moves and is convincing as someone who is emotionally damaged but fierce in her determination. Deegan is a good foil for her and similarly carries the light and dark of Joe.

The other characters are less important and we don’t really learn much about them other than as catalysts for Leigh and Joe’s actions. Both are on the brink of choices that will make or break their lives. We can see how it can be small moments and influences that shape us.

Have you seen this film? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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