Gregory's Girl UHD 4KDirector: Bill Forsyth
Screenplay: Bill Forsyth
Starring: John Gordon Sinclair, Dee Hepburn, Clare Grogan
Country: United Kingdom
Running Time: 91 minutes
Year: 1981
BBFC Certificate: 12A

I’d like to say Gregory’s Girl is the epitome of coming of age British comedy, and it is, but that would imply there’s a raft of similar films that at least ride just behind on its coattails. And there isn’t. Director Bill Forsyth is a genre unto himself once you add the superb Local Hero into the mix.

Forsyth not only grasped what made British drama so uniquely honest, he did it better than most (probably because he’s actually Scottish) in those two gems at least. They’re loved globally, both with stories that are inherently British but with universal themes too. So long as subtitles are available for the Scottish accents (or even the hilarious dub for American audiences included on this month’s UHD release of Gregory’s Girl).

Gregory's Girl, Dee Hepburn

Its story is so simple there isn’t even an antagonist. Nor an inference of social injustice, or political ineptitude, which can usually be taken for granted in British cinema. Here, it’s just raging teenage hormones. Gregory (John Gordon Sinclair) has fallen for the new girl, Dorothy (Dee Hepburn), but unfortunately so has the rest of the boys at school. Well, she does play football.

If you want to find an issue with the film, is it perhaps too much of the male gaze? Is Dorothy objectified? Certainly, the film does open with a topless scene (not Dee Hepburn; her character is effervescent and elusive) and the language is naive by today’s standards. But it’s never exploitative or contrived; the comedy feels natural and honest, never cruel, even if the behaviour would raise eyebrows today. The secret weapon in the narrative is the universal truth that the hapless boys have reached a certain age and turned into confused idiots, and the girls are well aware and wearily tolerate their nonsense, including Dorothy. They have their own agency, quietly driving the film. Maybe it does have its cake and eat it, and doubtful it could do so today, but it balances a timeless reality. After all, as the poster says, “there’s a little bit of him in all of us”.

The closest in tone to Gregory’s Girl is probably to be found in the work of John Hughes and Kevin Smith, but both embrace sentimentality and, in Smith’s case, exceptional smut. Neither have Forsyth’s subtlety or sense of realism. Gregory’s Girl is a gift of a film.

Gregory's Girl, John Gordon Sinclair

VIDEO
There’s no escaping that British cinema in the 70s and 80s could look a little drab and washed out. There’s a reason Hollywood settled in California, after all. Therefore, the UHD transfer is truly the best the film has ever looked and clearly a magic trick. Colours pop, a hint of grain pulls detail into the textures (especially that white suit) and skin tones are balanced perfectly. Those skies don’t seem quite so grey now.

EXTRA FEATURES

A modest selection of features explores the film’s legacy and that of Bill Forsyth. The Q&A is a stand-out; seeing the affection with which the cast are still greeted is moving. Also, The Strathclyde Tapes is a fun archive piece with Forsyth talking to school children about his work and the American dialogue version is hilarious.

Included with this release is a booklet with some excellent writing on the film’s themes and fabulous new artwork for the sleeve.

  • Q&A with John Gordon Sinclair, Clare Grogan and Dee Hepburn
  • Bill Forsyth: The Early Years
  • Clare Grogan: Gregory’s Girl
  • The Strathclyde Tapes: Bill Forsyth
  • Soundtrack gallery
  • US trailer
  • American dialogue version
  • Gregory's Girl, Claire Crogan, John Gordon Sinclair

    Gregory's Girl UHD
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    One Response

    1. MovieFeast

      Need to see this again it’s been over 20 years. Had this on VHS. This was fairly popular back in the day but seems largely unknown these days. Great film.

      Reply

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