The Girl With Brains in Her Feet

Roberto Bangura's 1997 first feature captures the turmoil of adolescence and the social chaos of Britain in the early 70s. Thirteen-year-old Jacqueline (Joanna Ward) lives with her abusive white mother but has never known her black father; an excellent runner, she's pushed to excel by a sympathetic coach, who says her brains are in her feet. A busy camera and intrusive rock tunes convey Jack's unstable sense of herself—full of contradictions, she takes cigarette breaks during her runs—but when her mother turns soft and cuddly, I was incredulous.

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