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Gregory’s Two Girls (1999, John Gordon Sinclair, Dougray Scott)

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The return of Gregory mirrors the comeback of his creator, whose wider ambitions were never realised, and made a homecoming inevitable with the support of FilmFour. Two decades on from his awkward seductions, little has changed for Gregory Underwood (John Gordon Sinclair).

He’s still at school – this time as an English teacher – and remains prone to daydreams involving schoolgirls like Frances (Carly McKinnon), leaving him oblivious to the affections of music teacher Bel (Maria Doyle Kennedy). His apathy is challenged when Frances becomes suspicious of the school’s legendary old boy turned electronics millionaire Fraser Rowan (Dougray Scott). Accusing Rowan of manufacturing torture equipment, she enlists Gregory’s help in raiding the factory, revealing the truth, and sorting out his miserable problems for good…

Employing two of the most underused comedic threads – fascism and the gymslip mistress – was perhaps ill-advised, but Bill Forsyth has forged classic moments from ice cream vans and colonial imperialism in the past. While he never matches the magic of Comfort and Joy or Local Hero, his affectionate sequel benefits from the obvious rapport between director and star. ‘Making the film was easier in that we have a shorthand,’ said Sinclair of Forsyth. ‘When he suggests something I know exactly what he means,’ and it’s little coincidence that both men have done their best work together. The intimacy energises the supporting cast, with McKinnon and her fellow pupils drawn from youth theatre groups, and delivering performances that complement Forsyth’s effectively naturalistic approach.

production details
UK | 116 minutes | 1999

Writer and Director: Bill Forsyth

cast
John Gordon Sinclair as Gregory Underwood
Dougray Scott as Fraser Rowan
Dawn Steele as Jan
Maria Doyle Kennedy as Bel
Alexander Morton as Norman
Carly McKinnon as Frances
Fiona Bell as Maddy Underwood
Gary Lewis as Mr McCance
John Murtagh as Headmaster
Hugh McCue as Douglas
Martin Schwab as Dimitri
Kevin Anderson as Jon
Matt Costello as Detective Gorrie
Jane Stabler as Detective Ritchie
Anne Marie Timoney as Joyce