Movie Review: “Girlhood (Bande De Filles)” – Womanhood

Written by Samah Ali March 09, 2015

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It’s not easy being a girl and Céline Sciamma made that clear in her latest feature. As a young woman tries to fit in with her new group of friends while being the step-in mother to her two younger sister, “Girlhood” vocalizes the pain of an abusive household and ultimately ends on a thought-provoking note.

With an absent mother working all the time, Marieme (Karidja Touré) cooks, cleans and protects her younger sisters from their bipolar, abusive older brother. After she finds out she is failing school Marieme decides to join a gang of girls and changes to fit in. They steal and gallivant around the city while Marieme, now by her alias Vic, goes to all ends to impress the girls, eventually becoming a family. Fed up with her home life, she seeks refuge with a local mobster and is consequently abused again. Losing all connections with her past life, Marieme strips herself of all feminine qualities in hopes to find her path to womanhood.

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Karidja Touré is a breakout star. She singlehandedly carries the movie from the early scenes of her naïve, passive school days to her confused, boyish days. As her first feature, Touré is stunning and emotional as she deals with the broken relationship with her brother to leaving her sisters for a promising life with the mob leader. With her changing personas, Touré convincingly plays Marieme, the lost, young girl who wants to provide and be with her family, and Vic, the fierce gang member who flirts with her older brother’s friend and defends her gang in local neighborhood fights. Touré is captivating and absolutely stunning, someone to watch out for in the future.

“Vic as in victory”

Carrying majority of “Girlhood” with Touré is her outgoing gang members Lady (Assa Sylla), Adiatou (Linday Karamoh) and Fily (Marietou Touré). These girls are the definition of friendship. First skeptical by their intimidating presence and neighborhood reputation, Marieme realizes they are more then their bold language and facial expressions: they are young girls who need to prove their strength to the world. And with the fun drunk dancing scene to Rihanna’s “Diamonds”, a night in with the girls has never looked so fun.

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“Girlhood” challenges the path of womanhood and with an open ending. Marieme’s opinions on her girlhood evolve in every scene from her timid days to her outgoing days to her hopeless days. She begins to dress like a boy and rids herself of her past, an opportunity for her to finally be free. She learns that it’s easier to be a boy but dressing the part will never make her the woman she wants to be. This low point was problematic and inferred there was no hope to being a girl but Sciamma redeemed herself by leaving Marieme’s story unfinished because one’s path from girlhood to womanhood will never be finished. Marieme continues to run until she finds herself, wherever that may be is beyond the screen.

“Strong and alone.”

“Girlhood” was a reflective movie and questioned the definition of girlhood as a young girl moved towards womanhood. Defying conventional storytelling, Sciamma chose to show the life of a girl instead of depicting a “normal” childhood like Richard Linklater’s Boyhood. “Girlhood” debuted a phenomenal cast and had a sweet ending that still challenged where one discovers the kind of woman they want to be. “Girlhood” was artistic and thoughtful, a story to watch again and again.

Rating: 8/10

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About Samah Ali

Samah Ali

With a deep admiration for film, television, and music, Samah spends most of her free time expressing and sharing her love for the arts. Studying Creative Writing at Western University, she enjoys writing about film & music and shapes her passions with the latest movie or album available.

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