A beautiful moment in Girlhood occurs when the characters dance and lip-sync to Rhianna’s Diamonds, made more lavish by some gorgeous chromium cinematography. You get that transcendental moment of seeing these beautiful young women for all they are, their empty hopes and dreams. The English language title Girlhood (Bande de Filles in French) evokes last year’s Boyhood, perhaps a marketing gimmick but also oozing with irony, with the problems faced by these young characters feeling ever so different. Karidja Touré plays Marieme, a teenager with few life prospects who joins a gang with three other girls, finding herself some sort of identity and confidence in dangerous terrain.
Girlhood is seeped in sadness, with its focus on a single character and overwhelming feeling of inevitability reminiscent of the marvellous, tragic-realism of Frutivale Station. Superb, nuanced performances bring deep poignancy to these roles. Director Céline Sciamma often explores interesting questions of identity, doing so here with a energetic intensity, epitomised by the opening scene of a girl’s American football game, with that explosive energy seeping into the film’s rich, complicated tapestry.
Review by David Rank
Girlhood is out now in the UK and US. Running time 113 mins. Certificate 15 (UK).