Channel 4: Sunday 20 September, 1.30pm
The sudden death of Heath Ledger in January 2008, aged just 28, cast his films in a new stark light. None more poignantly than his Hollywood debut. In the breezy teen comedy 10 Things I Hate About You, he was perfectly cast as a wild colonial boy at an American high school. There’s another reason to celebrate 10 Things. It was also the breakthrough film for talented young Julia Stiles.
She’s Kat Stratford, boy-hating high school queen despised by her sister Bianca who’s desperate to date boys. Their father’s house rule is simple: Bianca can date when Kat dates, and he knows Kat has no intention of wasting her time with such frivolities. The search is on for a boy man enough to take on Kat. Heath Ledger fits the bill. It’s rumoured he sold his own liver on the black market for a new set of speakers. “I heard he ate a live duck once,” says another lad.
“Everything except beak and feet.” This wittily scripted teen update of The Taming of the Shrew fizzes with funny lines and an irresistible energy that doesn’t just emanate from the bouncy pop soundtrack. There are attractive support turns from Larry Miller as the sisters’ exasperated father and Allison Janney as the beaming school guidance counselor Ms Perky. But it’s the youngsters who carry the film triumphantly through to its satisfying conclusion.