Girlhood (2014)

Rates: * * * * 1/2

Why did I watch it?: Director Celine Sciamma made the astounding ‘Portrait of a Lady on Fire’ and now I am combing through her filmography.

Cast, crew etc

In a rough neighbourhood in the Parisian suburbs, young Vic grapples with her grim looking future. Barred from attending high school, marginalised due to the ethnicity, her options seem to be; housewife, service industry drone, drug dealer. Then she falls in with a group of slightly older, slightly more worldly, girls – the ‘Bande de filles’ of the French title – and finds a reason for being.

This simple, coming of age story is beautifully put together by director Celine Sciamma, who brings a poets eye to this grim environment. While mostly deploying a minimalistic, elegant style, the director also shows an astute ability to judge when to add music and overt stylisation. The standout scene is the one where the girl friends rent a hotel room and dance to ‘Diamond’ by Rhianna; dramatically lit, and energetically performed, this is like a scene out of some other movie. Which underlies the point: all these girls have is each other, and this moment, lost in singing and dancing toegther, is like a holiday from their existance.

Pop music.


Universal things that can shine some light in, anywhere.

Great performances by a talented young cast. The looks on the main character’s face, played by Karidja Toure, as she observes the world around her, and tries to find her way, are really something. Sad, sombre eyes, that have already seen too much, sometimes flashing with anger and energy.

A great film from a director who has such a feel for this material.

View my ‘Favourite 100 Movies of the Decade’ list.

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