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GIRLHOOD Band Of Sisters

GirlhoodDirected by Céline Sciamma

Starring Karidja Touré, Assa Sylla

Marieme (Karidja Touré) is growing up in an apartment tower in a poor outer suburb of Paris, looking after her younger sisters as her mother works nights. Failing at school, her future is looking bleak when she meets a trio of girls that have all the verve and self confidence she could want in herself. Joining this gang, she takes on the name Vic (short for Victory) and starts to see possibilities of a different life for herself.

The tragedy about Girlhood is how Vic’s gender and social condition impact on each other, compounding her disadvantage. With the prevalent cultural attitudes within her environment, options are either closed to her one by one, or she rejects them herself. As Vic comes of age, despite her competence, despite her determination, and despite her (and others’) belief that she can achieve, what is she really left with? Each remaining option would be a betrayal of who she wants to be, as each in one way or another puts her as chattel, dependent on the whims of someone else for her survival.

All of which sounds remarkably grim, yet Girlhood is strangely far from this. This is due both to director Céline Sciamma’s (Tomboy) fantastic sense of style, and to the incredible energy she elicits from the girls. Sciamma demonstrates an exceptional eye here. Rather than resorting to a Steadicam, Girlhood is apparently shot in good old fashion Cinemascope. Hence there is an extraordinary sense of composition, each frame bringing out the beauty in the harsh and decaying concrete edifices that encompasses the girls’ world. Precise care has also gone into the colour selection. Blue permeates the film, becoming associated with Vic’s metamorphosis, and staying closely associated with her throughout the movie, save in scenes where she drastically alters her identity (even here, a hint can be found). Sciamma also demonstrates many artistic flourishes, such as the fades to black that punctuate the movie (often leading to a significant change in characters) or the detailed fashion (often linked to a change in the persona presented to the world). Overall it is a thoughtful work with attention paid to the nuances.

Karidja Touré is phenomenal as Marieme/Vic. Her change in attitude, conveyed through posture and eye contact, take the audience through her character’s development. Yet there is something more here, a lightness of spirit, a seemingly genuine vibrancy that leaps off the screen. Be it a gritty street fight with a rival, or lip syncing Diamonds, that energy and potential are easily visible.

Despite its strong social message, Girlhood is predominantly a coming of age tale beautifully filmed and full of vibrancy. A fascinating and stunningly gorgeous portrait.


Girlhood screens at Somerville, UWA from Monday, March 2, until Sunday, March 8, as part of Lotterywest Festival Films. For tickets and session times, go to

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