Girlhood

"Extraordinary"

Girlhood Review


A bracingly fresh approach to the coming-of-age genre, this French drama gives remarkable insight into its central character through detailed observation rather than overt plotting or dialogue. Filmmaker Celine Sciamma has experience in looking at young girls who are grappling with their own conflicting desires (see Water Lilies and Tomboy), and this film is so beautifully made that it's often exhilarating.

Set in a rough housing estate on the edge of Paris, the focal character is Marieme (Karidja Toure), a smart 16-year-old who hasn't taken her schoolwork seriously enough. Shocked that she has botched her chance to go to college, she struggles to develop another dream to get out of her grim life protecting her little sister (Simina Soumare) from her aggressive older brother (Cyril Mendy). Then she meets three girls (Assa Sylla, Lindsay Karamoh and Marietou Toure) who are looking for a replacement for the fourth member of their gang. Thrilled to feel like she finally belongs somewhere, she joins in wholeheartedly, discovering the importance of sticking up for her new friends while gaining a sense of confidence. But she also clearly understands that this can't last forever.

Toure is magnetic on screen, a fierce presence as a young woman who is deeply insecure and yet beginning to understand her inner strength. She even adopts the name "Vic", for victory, although she's not so sure she believes it yet. Toure conveys Vic's inner fire with the subtlest hints: straightening her back, narrowing her eyes, squaring her jaw. This is how we know that she is dealing with something much deeper than the issues surrounding joining a gang. Her selflessness in protecting her sister is darkly inspiring, and the film's centrepiece scene is unforgettable: as she joins her new friends to steal some glamorous outfits and then play dress-up in a hotel room, where they "shine bright ... like diamonds in the sky," as they sing along with Rihanna.

Sciamma's achievement here is to resist every obvious coming-of-age moment while still giving the audience a staggeringly honest look into Vic's soul. There are moments of shocking violence, dark emotion and, above all, the realisation that she's not what anyone around her expects her to be. The question is whether she is willing to do the hardest thing of all: to live her life on her own terms instead of merely going with one of the herds. And by telling her story with such insight and sensitivity, Sciamma makes it impossible for anyone in the audience to miss the point.


Girlhood Trailer

 



Girlhood

Facts and Figures

Genre: Foreign

Run time: 113 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 22nd October 2014

Box Office USA: $52.7k

Distributed by: Strand Releasing

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Fresh: 34 Rotten: 3

IMDB: 6.6 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Celine Sciamma

Producer: Benedicte Couvreur

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

It's been a decade since Al Gore's wake-up-call documentary won the Oscar. And here he...

The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

It really doesn't matter that this movie is utterly ridiculous, because the central pairing of...

Final Portrait Movie Review

Final Portrait Movie Review

A relaxed, amusing true story about noted Swiss painter and sculptor Alberto Giacometti, this sharply...

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Finnish artist Tuoko Laaksonen used the name "Tom of Finland" as he drew explicit illustrations...

A Ghost Story Movie Review

A Ghost Story Movie Review

Filmmaker David Lowery reunites the stars from his offbeat Western Ain't Them Bodies Saints for...

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

From the co-director of John Wick, this similarly styled action romp puts Charlize Theron front...

Girls Trip Movie Review

Girls Trip Movie Review

This movie's premise basically sounds like The Hangover with added black girl power. But it's...

Advertisement
Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

There's so much manic energy in this animated action comedy that it can't help but...

The Big Sick Movie Review

The Big Sick Movie Review

It may be rather long for a romantic comedy, but this film has such a...

The Emoji Movie Movie Review

The Emoji Movie Movie Review

There's no reason why this animated comedy adventure needed to be this pointless. Solidly entertaining...

England Is Mine Movie Review

England Is Mine Movie Review

While this is billed as a film about The Smiths' singer-songwriter Morrissey, it's actually an...

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets Movie Review

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets Movie Review

It's been 20 years since French filmmaker Luc Besson shook up the sci-fi genre with...

Dunkirk Movie Review

Dunkirk Movie Review

Britain's epic 1940 evacuation of Dunkirk has been dramatised on film before, but no one...

Killing Ground Movie Review

Killing Ground Movie Review

From Australia, this dark and edgy thriller is skilfully made by writer-director Damien Power to...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.