Watch Top Girls
- 1 hr 51 min
Top Girls is a British drama film released in 1993, directed by renowned British director, Marianne Elliott. The film stars Lesley Manville, previously known for her theatre work, and Cecily Hobbs. The film is based on the play of the same name, written by Caryl Churchill. The play was first staged at the Royal Court Theatre in London in 1982, and has since then received widespread critical acclaim for its bold and challenging portrayal of feminism and gender politics.
The film opens with a lavish dinner party hosted by Marlene, played by Lesley Manville. Marlene is a successful career woman, who recently got promoted to the position of Director at an employment agency. Her guests include a range of women, each with their unique struggles and accomplishments. The first act revolves around the dinner party's conversations as the women share their experiences, and Marlene steals the show with stories of her hard work and dedication.
The second act delves deeper into Marlene's backstory, where we see the lengths she has gone to climb the corporate ladder. We learn about her abusive childhood, where she suffered at the hands of her mother, and her sister Joyce, played by Deborah Findlay, was left to shoulder most of the responsibilities. The contrast between the sisters and their disconnection is quite evident as Marlene has achieved for herself in the city, while Joyce has stayed back to look after their elderly mother.
The film's themes explore feminist issues, where the play's women characters represent different generations of women who struggle to achieve their goals within a male-dominated society. The issues raised are multi-layered, and the characters' experiences come from different backgrounds with each having a different way of dealing with inequality and oppression.
Lesley Manville's portrayal of Marlene is powerful and captivating; Marlene's ambition and dedication are admirable, but they come at a cost, both personally and to others around her. Hobbs' representation of Angie, a young girl adopted by Marlene's sister, Joyce, is particularly poignant; she represents the struggles of motherhood and being a woman. Her actions at the dinner party hint at her difficult upbringing, and you begin to understand the complexities of her character's transition from a difficult past to a better future.
The film's narrative style is unique in the way it weaves past events into the present. The non-linear structure allows for a broad understanding of the character's back-story while also giving context to their current struggles.
Top Girls is an impressive adaptation of the play, with its exploration of class and feminism still relevant today. Director Marianne Elliott has done an excellent job in bringing the seminal text to a wider audience by creating a film that is both poignant and thought-provoking. The performances by Manville and Hobbs are particularly striking, and the supporting cast of women makes up for a compelling narrative. The story underscores that there are many aspects to feminism, and the experience of women is a complex tapestry of emotions, experiences and conflicts as they navigate work, relationships, and self-fulfilment.
Overall, Top Girls is an excellent film that examines the complexities of feminism while not shying away from the challenges that come with it. The film's themes around solidarity with other women and the need to break down the patriarchal structure are relevant more than ever, and the production is timeless.