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Emma Seligman's ''Bottoms': Film Review

After what feels like an eternity, Emma Seligman’s sophomore film ‘Bottoms’ is finally out in the UK and Ireland.

As the world’s biggest Rachel Sennott fan, it’s no surprise that I booked my ticket for the first showing possible. Along with the rest of the world, I am a huge fan of Seligman’s first film ‘Shiva Baby’. For a directorial debut it is incredibly impressive. Her ability to create such a stressful environment was stellar. However, ‘Bottoms’ is the complete opposite.

As well as Sennott being part of the film, the sheer stupidity of the trailer drew me in. It features Sennott and her co-star Ayo Edebiri being referred to as the ‘ugly, untalented gays’ over the school’s speaker system. This level of ridiculousness is comparable to the early 2000s high school movie boom which featured the likes of ‘Not Another Teen Movie’ and ‘American Pie’. However, Seligman uses her queer lens to dismantle the genre and rebuild it in a way which portrays lesbians as dumb rather than sexual. Also, a stereotype within teen dramas is that if you’re gay, you’re automatically unpopular. And yet, the protagonists in this film are stereotypical losers, not because they’re gay, but because they’re useless. Seligman’s ability to carefully craft the characters of PJ and Josie (Sennott and Edebiri) so that they are seen as unpopular, but not automatically because of the fact that they’re gay, is extremely nuanced and modern.

Although I enjoyed the film greatly and would consider going to see it again, I do have a few qualms with how the film has come to the UK. There were only two months between its release dates in the US and the UK, but I found that, due to its cult following, a lot of the film was ruined for me.

The film almost marketed itself. ‘Shiva Baby’ did extremely well in critical circles making Sennott and Seligman already widely known. As well as this, Rachel Sennott is popular for her stand-up comedy and viral videos. Ayo Edebiri, also known for her comedy, is currently starring in ‘The Bear’ and has been nominated for an Emmy.

When I watched the film, I was disappointed with how much I had already seen. The full first half seemed familiar due to my slight obsession with each teaser trailer. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that it ruined my experience, but it definitely made me self-reflect in a way the film shouldn’t have. ‘Did I ruin it for myself? Was I too eager?’. The teaser trailers didn’t just tease, but actually spoiled a few parts of the film. I therefore felt as if I could recite some scenes word for word upon finally viewing the actual film.

Overall, the film is funny, queer, camp, and outlandish, whilst still remaining in touch with the current culture it finds itself in. It is reminiscent of 2000s culture, but it doesn’t restrict itself in the way many films from that era did.

Words: Kate Moxon, she/her

Image: @treaclychild


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