One of the key films of the British New Wave, Girl on Approval is an intimate, emotionally honest portrayal of a lonely and troubled teenage girl who has been boarded out three times – and three times she has been sent back to the children’s home.
14-year-old Sheila (Annette Whitely) is prone to violent temper tantrums, and her erratic behaviour is a great strain on her kindly foster parents, especially the foster mother Anne Howland (Rachel Roberts) who finds Sheila’s lack of engagement, profound solitude, wildly vacillating moods, and uncommonly sour outlook almost too much to bear.
Sheila gets on well with the Howlands’ two young children and they revel in her rich vocabulary of swear words. But her compulsion to test how deep her new foster parents’ love goes nearly wrecks their marriage.
Anne and her husband John (James Maxwell) wind up at each other’s throats when this bad seed makes their domestic suburban life a living hell – from cutting up furniture with scissors to smashing things on the kitchen floor.