Girlhood Screen 24 articles



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  • Sciamma is a talented filmmaker, and in Girlhood she tackles some big and complex themes without shying away from the daily conflicts typical of this particular subculture. But this film lacks the energy and urgency of her previous work, and despite decent performances from a cast of relative newcomers, it lacks the assurance to elevate it above your average coming-of-age drama.

  • Céline Sciamma’s Girlhood, the opening night selection of this year’s Quinzaine des réalisateurs, is a case study in overestimating the capacity of an established methodology. Following the two modest, unassumingly insightful features (the sexual coming-of-age chronicle Water Lilies and Tomboy, an observant examination of adolescent gender awakening), Sciamma’s latest doesn’t expand her thematic spectrum so much as overextend her narrative reach.

  • Sciamma's style [tends] to draw back just as things are getting interesting. Coming-of-age alternates between over-familiar and over-explained, but the underlying stance remains constant - viz. that men are flawed at best, brutes at worst, and female companionship is a girl's only true happiness. Hey, it worked for Frozen.

  • Much like the bad-girl clique into which the reticent Marieme (Karidja Touré) becomes happily integrated, director Céline Sciamma's third feature is self-assured, vivacious, and full of promise, yet also erratic, often ham-fisted in its approach, and ultimately unable to reconcile its conflicting urges.

  • The first act of Girlhood shines a poignant light on black female friendship, and the presence of violence feels like an unfortunate attempt at projecting racial verisimilitude. What’s far more interesting is the sight of these four girls enjoying each other’s company: Seeing their interior world is more refreshing than what is outside.

  • Abderrahmane Sissako’s “Timbuktu,” is a masterwork, and the other, Céline Sciamma’s “Girlhood,” is fascinating but mediocre. The aesthetic difference between the two movies isn’t merely ornamental or academic; it’s the difference between an experience and a mechanism, between a world view and a thesis. Sciamma’s film moves backward—she knows where her protagonist is meant to end up, and she seems to retrofit the action to bring about the needed results.

  • There is perhaps no better example of the command of “Diamonds” than Céline Sciamma’s use of it in her latest film, Girlhood... And yet I cannot overlook the glaring fact that a white woman directed Girlhood. Why should I be expected to? For women of color who so seldom see our reflection in film, it is imperative that we do not feel indebted to art that merely provides us with a mirror... and that we remain critical of those who are holding up these so-called mirrors.

  • The film's a little flat dramatically but the young non-professional cast are electric: keep an eye on its charismatic lead, Karidja Touré.

  • That aspect of black girldom is new for the movies: the shame of grooming. So is Rihanna as a kind of messiah. And the kids here are genuinely interesting. Sciamma really wants to know what makes some girls mean and arrives at a partial answer. But the rhythms and themes are like an old acquaintance you put up with because you need someone to talk to.

  • Both Water Lilies and Tomboy explored similar material—fluctuating sexual/gender identity and adolescent heartbreak—but Sciamma’s touch is lighter and more nuanced in Girlhood, which refuses to pin any of its characters down, even in their vacillations.

  • Working for a drug kingpin in a nearby cité, Vic assumes a butch persona with bound breasts, then dons a high-femme ruby minidress and blond wig when making deliveries. Both times that I’ve seen Girlhood, this has struck me as one reincarnation too many, at odds with Sciamma’s otherwise at once loose and assured approach. These doubts dissolve, however, with the perfect, simple choreography of the final shot—when exiting the frame becomes the most radical instance of “doing what you want.”

  • If there’s a teenage girl in your life — of any race, whether sister, cousin, daughter, friend, whomever — you would be wise to show her this film. If there’s a black teenage girl in your life? You would be mistaken, you would be borderline negligent, not to show her this film. It’s rare that I use the word, but Girlhood is an _important_ work of art.

  • What's the end game for all these rage? "Girlhood" smartly leaves that element unanswered. Sciamma treats her protagonists with the same degree of intelligence allotted to characters twice their age, at once sympathizing with Marieme's plight as the product of her troubled socioeconomic climate without pitying her. Nobody gives her an easy out; the movie's suspense expertly builds out of her own process of sussing out the options at her disposal.

  • Girlhood has heart-melting but tough performances from Toure and Sylla, is gorgeous to look at, sees these girls as a vital force of the future, is unafraid to wallow in pop culture as an emotional high and – were it not for a slight faltering of momentum in its final quarter – would be near-perfect. You’ll never see Rihanna’s Diamonds used to greater effect than in a lip-synch sequence here.

  • Whether using her newfound switchblade for revenge (not what you’d think) or discovering her budding sexuality, Touré reveals herself to be a terrific, naturalistic talent (as are her three costars), and Sciamma’s sharp, graceful compositions could’ve had the film renamed Blue is the Warmest Color for its distinctive palette alone.

  • The enterprise is a productive partnership; Sciamma, the Lady of the bande. She worked closely with the four leads, all non-professionals, allowing them to improvise before locking their characters into a fixed scenario. Cinematographer Crystel Fournier’s images of groups of girls either crammed together or isolated from their surroundings fulfill the original promise of CinemaScope.

  • It takes an intuitive and devoted filmmaker like Sciamma to go beneath the surface of "girlhood", to remove the normal trappings, and to look at all of the different forces and influences in play. "Girlhood," her latest, is a powerful and entertaining film about a gang of girls, and what friendship means, the protection it provides.

  • Even if it weren't any good, GIRLHOOD would be worth seeing just because its focus on the intimate lives of black female characters makes it something of an anomaly. Fortunately for movie lovers, the result also shines bright like a diamond in the firmament of contemporary cinema.

  • As in her previous coming-of-age investigations Tomboy and Water Lillies, Sciamma refuses to provide easy answers, making Girlhood both universal (see: title) as well as slyly political. The film confounds superficial expectations of its hood culture milieu throughout its heroine’s transition from a meek, braided girl hiding within the banlieues to an itinerant criminal and then something else entirely.

  • Sciamma achieves an almost-impossible feat: eschewing the flat “realism” of the genre, she delves into the mixture of violence, silliness and oneirism of the charmed, yet dangerous, world inhabited by these African princesses fallen to the concrete from an ancient paradise.

  • The latest exploration of female adolescence from Céline Sciamma (Water Lilies, Tomboy), Girlhood is a fly-on-the-wall, over-the-shoulder exposé of a young woman’s life in a very specific ethnic and cultural milieu, and yet its realism is offset by the stylised recurrence of the number four: four girls in the gang; several key scenes taking place under the sign of Les Quatre Temps in the La Défense district; and a quadripartite structure for the film itself.

  • This cookie-cutter title, while great for distribution, does a great disservice to a film that is much more defiant and unsettling than Richard Linklater’s subtle meditation on middle-class American suburban boyhood. This is no quietly incremental coming-of-age narrative, but a brash, at times distressing series of snapshots of the life of undereducated black working-class girls on the bottom rung of every social and economic ladder.

  • Bracing in its sly formal mastery and its skillful avoidance of gangland cliches, Celine Sciamma’s gorgeous third feature feels all the more vital in the wake of the Paris attacks, even as it refuses to sacrifice specificity on the altar of relatability.

  • This is a picture I saw more or less cold, at this year’s EbertFest, and it just floored me. Not just in its commitment to its characters and its setting, but in its cinematic fluidity, which is best, or most noticeably, expressed in a scene in which its partying girl squad lip-syncs the Rihanna song “Diamonds.” I am about as far as you can get from a Rihanna admirer, incidentally.

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