FEW films have bottled the teenage experience in all it gawky, awkward glory quite like Gregory’s Girl.
By Ralph McLean
Few films have bottled the teenage experience in all it gawky, awkward glory quite like Gregory’s Girl.
While Bill Forsyth’s simple but spot-on study of the frustrations and foibles of young love was a success upon its original release in 1981, its reputation has continued to grow over the passing decades to the point that it’s rightly thought of today as a genuine classic of low budget, high impact British cinema.
When you consider that the film is set in an urban Scotland as far removed from trite tourist board cliche as it’s possible to imagine, and that Forsyth used a cast of then unknown players, that’s no mean feat, really.
It’s reflective of its status that Gregory’s Girl has just been afforded a first-class 4K buff-up job from the BFI. It now looks and sounds better than ever and comes adorned with all manner of nifty little extras into the bargain. More of those in a moment – but first, to the film itself.
For anyone who hasn’t yet enjoyed its low-key but lovely allure, it’s the tale of Gregory (John Gordon Sinclair), a fairly gormless teenager who falls for the athletic Dorothy (Dee Hepburn) from the very moment she turns up to try out for the school football team and proves to be way better than all the boys.
Dee Hepburn as Dorothy
Enthralled by her football skills and desperate to ask her out, but unable to work out how to go about it, Gregory is one of the most engaging and believable teenagers ever to grace a UK cinema screen. A world away from the typical teen dramas with their pretty boy leads and high school cliches, this is a quirky and offbeat study of adolescent longing.
Sinclair is superb as the innocent desperate to make a connection with his ideal partner. The advice he receives from his 10-year-old sister throughout his ‘journey’ is pure comic gold throughout.
Forsyth directs with a sweet and easy-going style that feels like a kitchen sink epic from 20 years earlier, but with more humour.
This freshly restored edition form the BFI is available in both UHD and standard Blu-ray versions, and, as alluded to earlier, those special features are indeed special.
There’s a revealing audio commentary from Mark Kermode with Bill Forsyth that dates back to 2014, and a band new audio track from cast members Robert Buchanan, Douglas Sannachan and Caroline Guthrie that also adds to your enjoyment of the main feature.
Clare Grogan and John Gordon Sinclair
There’s even a chance to revisit a rarely seen side of the writer and director who would go on to give us Local Hero: The Strathclyde Tapes finds Forsyth looking back on his work and reflecting on the state of the Scottish film industry in the 1990s.
As always, these bonus items enhance the package greatly, but it’s the film itself that you really need – and it’s never looked better. A fresh, funny and often heart-warming tale of the cringeworthy side of falling in love for the first time, Gregory’s Girl is an understated gem you’ll come back to again and again.