Marieme (Karidja Touré) is a sixteen-year-old, African-French girl living in a working class Paris suburb, where her poor academic performance results in no other option other than vocational school. Marieme's homelife is equally bleak, as she's often in the care of her abusive older brother, with no real friends or outlet of creativity to turn to. One day after school, she meets a gang of girls; lead by Lady (Assa Sylla), they are Fily (Marietou Tore) and Adiatou (Lindsay Karamoh), who ask if Marieme wants to hang out with them and enjoy a day of independence, free from school and the responsibilities of every day life. Marieme is instantly attracted by their sleek leather jackets, gold necklaces, and loud hairstyles, so she can't help but, overtime, develop a sense of attraction to them and their wily ways. It doesn't take long for Marieme to become invested in the gang's lifestyle, which concerns a lot of assimilation into their own everyday practices, such as relentless, bare-fisted fighting with other women in remote urban areas. The violence gets ugly and the lengths Marieme goes to be accepted are uglier.
Céline Sciamma's Girlhood is a delightfully unconventional picture that truly shows the subtle takeover that many gangs have on people, and in this case, women, the demographic who is sort of accepted as being "too good for gangs" or more drawn to harmless cliques that innocently gawk at guys and discuss fashion trends. Sciamma goes for a brutal but tender picture, much like her last film Tomboy, a surprisingly gentle film about a ten-year-old girl searching for acceptance with her short hair and fluid gender identity.
Where Tomboy spoke to young girls, Girlhood speaks to the demographic of young women that are handicapped, be it by finances, personal responsibilities, poor academic performance, or what-have-you to the point where joining a pack of dangerous women seems to be the only sane and logical thing to do. It's a scary thought but Sciamma depicts it in a way comparable to that of Larry Clark or Harmony Korine, where the film doesn't adhere to a slippery slope structure, where we're essentially watching the demise of a character before a rise even occurs. Sciamma doesn't subject her Marieme character to constant abuse that grows worse and worse, in an almost sadistic and self-damning way. Instead, she follows her along in a realistic manner, through multiple hairstyle changes and even an eventual identity overhaul in hopes that she'll find some semblance of solace with herself.
Many can see Marieme's problem a mile away and that's the fact that she's trying to solve her personal problems by filling the hole with other people, which, in a long-term sense providing a close relationship with males or females is built, will only result in mistreatment and abandonment on her part. Marieme is trying to find solace in others when she should be spending more time alone, searching for herself instead of falling prey to the vicious acts of gangmembers she barely knows. However, this is where Sciamma's film becomes a multilayered examination of the troubled female heroine; we can either view her choices as that of an naive young girl pining for acceptance or somebody who is trying to figure out what she wants and taking pride in group identity.
However you view Marieme and Sciamma's general purpose for Girlhood, certain ideas and attributes about the film hold up in their own, less ambiguous way. For starters, Sciamma goes for a long and aesthetic that relies heavily on vignettes and a lack of pacing in the conventional sense. Her pacing is very loose, and unfortunately, this lack of a cleaner structure finds itself all over the board in the way the film wants us, the audience, to react. Her pacing, and overall aesthetic, resembles that of a potboiling soap opera in that, no matter how Sciamma decides to position her characters or her camera, everything still feels like something alone the lines of a soap opera in terms of its look and feel. This is a somewhat distracting attribute, especially for a film nearing two hours in length and running on a rather minimal plot.
With that, Touré's performance is quite the standout, given that for the twenty-year-old's first acting gig she is left to carry a lion's weight of the film on her back in addition to having a character without a fundamental identity. Much like the young Zoé Héran's Laure in Tomboy, Touré finds ways to make Marieme speak to young women who have found themselves lost and without a healthy creative option to turn to amidst a bleak outlook. This sets up Sciamma for her many idiosyncratic insights into the gender fluidity of her female subjects in a manner that gives Girlhood a stamp of cold-cut realism and honesty films of this nature are hard to come by.
Starring: Karidja Touré, Assa Sylla, Lindsay Karamoh, and Mariétou Touré. Directed by: Céline Sciamma.
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.
Uploaded By: FREEMAN
January 06, 2020 at 06:49 AM