InterActive member Esther Vincent has written a great review for Girlhood, continuing this week at The Showroom. Esther wins two free tickets to a film of her choice at the Showroom. We are on the lookout for more film reviewers aged 15-18, so please get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about InterActive.
In a beautiful
and powerful sister to ‘Boyhood’, Céline Sciamma
examines life as a teenage girl in a way that goes above and beyond than the
media’s usual depiction of adolescence. Marieme has generally low academic
prospects, and joins a girl gang expecting not to fit in; she begins by feeling
the all too common combination of both inclusion and exclusion. Instead, after
a while, she finds comfort, support and friendship, a theme explored very
deeply throughout the film.
makes this film so beautiful is how easy it is to empathise with; the
characters are likeable because they aren’t sensationalised, told they can
change their destinies or given epic journeys. They are, well, normal. And in
current cinema, that’s something we don’t get to see very often. These girls
didn’t have great prospects but they loved each other and this film highlights
that and makes us examine the friendships in our own lives. From the very first
moment we are rooting for these girls; the girls who don’t have the most
affluent home lives, who don’t excel academically but love strongly, who have
downtrodden by the men in their lives but would kill to protect each other.
isn’t to say that Sciamma’s work isn’t beautifully filmed. Marieme goes through
many hardships, such as a problematic relationship and having to deal with an
abusive brother with only her sisters for comfort. But she endures everything
that’s thrown at her, and plenty of close, emotional shots are used to
highlight how strong she is. These lingering moments of cinematography are what
makes this film so powerful. Sciamma’s work is more minimalistic than common
box office hits, and the music was used sparingly yet effectively. The piece in
the trailer is used as a refrain throughout the film, and this is usually at a
moment where Marieme is feeling powerful or is supported by her friends – the
music only emphasises the raw emotionality of the scenes.
explores a wide range of issues, but from a very human angle. Marieme’s
struggles aren’t exaggerated, but portrayed as a normal part of her life. One
of the first scenes depicts Marieme coming home to her younger sisters at
night, both of them having made dinner for themselves. Their mother is a rare
presence in the film, and this alluded to, sadly, how common it is for
teenagers to end up living the life of a young carer. Although the other
friendships are examined closely, I would have really loved to have seen more
emphasis on Marieme’s relationship with her sister; this was addressed at the
beginning of the film and it was lovely to watch the how close they were
through their mutual experiences.
film also contains hints of domestic abuse; this instantly bonded sympathetic
viewers to the sisters. However, this wasn’t overdone, and the fact that the
focus of the film digressed to other issues really added to the sense of
strength and endurance around the protagonist’s character.
the sometimes melancholy subject matter, the protagonist’s moments with her
friends do not contrast too starkly with her time at home. All of the
environments Marieme and her friends are filmed in are bright and full of
energy. It provides an insider’s look into life inside a girl gang and the nuances
of French street culture, and the balance was just right. Overall, the
fluctuation between positive moments and negativity provided a very empathetic,
human perspective of young female life.