BFI Flare 2015: Girlhood (2014)

by Maryann O'Connor on 24/03/2015


Gritty and uplifting at the same time, Girlhood acknowledges the fine line which divides young woman and young man and shows us all the different facets of being a teenage girl: fighting, singing and gaming included. Writer/director Celine Sciamma’s Paris-set story of Marieme and her growing confidence and friendships is bold in the extreme.

At the start of the film Marieme is an awkward child, by the end of the film she is hardening her face in a way that would please Scarlett O’Hara. Marieme explores her body, the way she looks, in a variety of ways. She experiments with presenting herself as male when that is what makes her feel comfortable. She rejects the expectations set out for her, as a woman from a low income family. Karidja Touré’s portrayal of Marieme is effected seemingly effortlessly, her transition through the stages of adolescence happening at warp speed. There are great supporting performances from Assa Sylla, Mariétou Touré and Lindsay Karamoh.

Music is joyously used to punctuate what turn out to be life-changing moments for Marieme, in a decade which is inherently life-changing for all of us. Lighthearted, intense and horrifying scenes flow effortlessly, starting from the first moment when we see the young women on the football field, facing each other in a goodnatured game of American Football.

Gritty but glorious, this is one coming of age tale which should not be missed.

Maryann has awarded Girlhood (2014) four Torches of Truth

4 torches


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