An emotionally desperate soul, Fleabag (as played by Phoebe Waller-Bridge) is a young woman haunted by a begrudging past and a precarious future. As her guinea-pig themed London coffee shop heads for bankruptcy and her family despairs of her choices, her knack for casual sex and sarcastic witticisms may not be enough to get her through…
… Without the presence of any other actors, set changes or obliging camera moves, Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s face is the only canvas that matters.
A cultural sensation as already established by her BBC/Amazon TV series, ‘Fleabag’ the film is neither the same nor different to the aforementioned TV show. Still brazenly unfiltered, ‘Fleabag’ is a stage recording that makes the most of Phoebe Waller-Bridge as a performer. Perched upon a single chair, she pulls you through a story you’re probably already familiar with and yet she still manages to leave you in a wholly different place.
You see, similar to how a book is often superior to the movie it’s based upon, the same can be said with the ‘Fleabag’ stage show. Without the presence of any other actors, set changes or obliging camera moves, Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s face is the only canvas that matters. Riding her expressions and caustic asides throughout, each moment becomes a new scene in your imagination rather than one pulled from your memory.
Glued to her darting eyes and clinging to the cusp of each remark, Waller-Bridge’s stage presence is a completely different experience. If anything, she’s even more engaging. In a high-wire performance where timing is everything, she never lets a beat go to waste. Nowhere is this more clearly shown than when she says nothing. Holding the expectations of the audience in the palm of her hand, the cinema audience blends into theatre audience onscreen and they become one and the same.
Delivering a similar level of comedy and pathos as seen on TV, the sense of tragedy here feels even more raw. Excusing her wet-to-the-skin walk home with hilarious deprecations, Fleabag becomes the new voice for the next generation of women. Similar to the impact that the original Bridget Jones newspaper column had, ‘Fleabag’ is post-internet and so past the fairytale of 2.4 kids, that you are left with a new feminist icon who you may have even met, known or been at some point.
Suffice to say, if you loved the TV show, you’ll love the movie. If you haven’t seen the show, still see the movie. Taken in any order, ‘Fleabag’ holds its own in any medium whilst still raising the roof with its brutally hilarious cocktail of hopes and fears.
-My advice? Make yours a double.