Saturday, May 23, 2015

GIRLHOOD (2015)



Written & Directed By: Celine Sciamma 
Cinematography By: Crystel Fournier 
Editor: Julien Lacheray 


Cast: Kardija Toure, Assa Syla, Lindsay Karamoh, Marietou Toure, Idrissa Diabate, Sima Soumare, Binta Diop, Djibril Gueye, Cyril Mendy,

Welcome to my long winded review.

Oppressed by her family setting, dead-end school prospects and the boys law in the neighborhood, Marieme starts a new life after meeting a group of 3 free-spirited girls. She changes her name, her dress code, and quits school to be accepted in the gang, hoping that this will be a way to freedom. reinventing herself and gaining a sense of self confidence in the process. However, she soon finds that this new life does not necessarily make her any happier.

While the film’s title gives you a hint of what the film is about. The film shows that it is more about this one main character, but also the sisterhood that seems to exist within her life. Not only when it comes to her actual family, but also the tight bond she shares with her circle of friends. Who become so meaningful and close to her that they are like her sisters. As she is uncertain at times as in some aspects they might have only befriended her as they needed someone to replace another in their group.

The film also explores that just like her, her friendship are making that uncertain move from graduating from being girls to becoming women. The changing atmosphere and treatment they are dealing with as well as differing reactions from all around. Showing how they deal.

Scenes like the fight with the other tough girl. Which is not too violent, but the ultimate victory is not physically overcoming the other, but more embarrassing the loser by their bare flesh being bared and having to be embarrassed. A form of baring your enemies to a crowd. Showing not only defeat bye even with the victory. You keep making them your victim. Especially when most young people have mixed feelings about their bodies either proud to display or embarrassed. Some want attention and feel that is all they have to offer. Others use it as power and to their advantage. Teenage years are really confusing for all involved with plenty of hypocritical behavior and actions. This film doesn't shy away from it.

I can't say honestly that I loved the film, but it held my interest throughout and stayed unpredictable for me. It doesn't offer any big revelations nor challenge any aspects of story. Though it does showcase a community that are rarely given major screen time. It's not an expose or anything like that, but we are immersed in This girls life as she becomes a woman too fast. A typical coming of age with a bit of harshness that is rare in these types of film.

The director was inspired by teenage girls that she would regularly see hanging out in the vicinity of Paris area shopping centers and train stations. Wanting to delve deeper, she sought out their blogs and became fascinated by their aesthetics and styles. Actresses were scouted on the streets for the film

For a film that wants Us to feel a certain intimacy with it's characters especially our main. Some details of the story are rather vague. That might be as in life we don't always necessarily focus and spell out everything for clarity. Letting us read the situations mad we wish to reflect or dissect as we wish. Though at times it leaves the films and It's scenes to be episodic that leads to the next and has Hidden meanings. Though at times it leaves us in the audience guessing a bit too much.

It is a heartbreaking film that offers no easy answers and leaves us to witness as we hope the acts will lead to bigger and better, but know it is only Digging a deeper hole.

Though rather than paint her friends as bad influences or villains. Instead it shows the camaraderie and family she is seeking and making her feel good about herself and life. While not grown themselves they all don't know any better and desire to be noticed, tough and to have fun. Especially considering the not necessarily promising surroundings and predictions of their future.

So many scenes stand out, but the film Displays an honest depiction of young girls. Not saints not Devils just normal mean well, but make Mistakes. The film doesn't resort to Cliches it mines more of an emotional journey and depictions that doesn't always focus on sex. Shows the difficulty fitting in. Finding beauty when you Are supposedly not the status-quo, nor celebrated

While there is violence it is not much physical. As she is brutalized by her brother. Not even considering her a person as all he worries about is how her actions affect him and his reputation. Though also not offering her any answers in her own life directions. Though always has an opinion about her acts and demeanor.

It takes the audience back to youth where even though you had blood family. Your friends were that extended family you felt knew and understood you best and steered you forward and for the best.

Though beautifully photographed it also exposes the stark surroundings and hopes for the future. As we see hints of what can be expected of the characters in the future.

Though some touching scenes. Like them All dancing and signing to Rihanna's song DIAMONDS and taking it further and deeper then It's lyrics and reciting it like more a personal anthem. Her walking into a party and vein the only person of color there and to do a drug deal with her dark skin and a shiny bright wig that makes her stand out even more with that sharp coloring making sure our gaze never leaves her as the rest of the guests there seem to barely notice her.

The most daunting task for the film the rights to the Rihanna song DIAMONDS. She gave them the authorization once she had seen the sequence dedicated to the song.

The scene of her seducing her crush and instead of us seeing her bare any skin. He is the one who bares the most. As anytime the film veers towards sex or sexuality it purposely avoids it or leaves it more implied and unsaid.

It's rare a film comes out like this and here is really no savior no saintly good person to give them advice or direct them onto the right track. The film offers no answers for the main character nor the audience. So that the film offers a slice of life for a misguided gel who isn't a saint, nor totally a bar girl.

I am glad the film never becomes exploitive. Always exploring the story and scenes with maturity and understanding. Never leading with flashes of flesh not violence.

The film comes off not shocking and always stays subtle. No matter how ugly it might get in terms of subject matter.

This is gem of a film. That gives a voice to characters that are rarely given any screen time albeit depth usually. Those characters of color who are usually used to illustrate the backgrounds of films of these type or be a specimen to show how open a main character usually Caucasian is or give that character some kind of credit street or otherwise. So this is a breath of fresh air. I only wish it had gone further and had more to say, Or at least a clearer statement to offer. It never truly comes alive or feels free enough. While shining a light to some joys they seem so fleeting and minor. We never get to bask in them before we are right back to dread

 Grade: B

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