Monday, May 25, 2015


Very glad to see that this is getting an extended look at West Newton after playing the Brattle. As much as I can sometimes appreciate the urgency that comes with song something booked at that theater - I've missed more than a few boutique-house movies because I figured I could see them during the week, then maybe the next weekend, and so on until crap, it's gone Thursday - sometimes that weekend just doesn't work for you.

Anyway, see this one, even if that means... Wow, it's out on video already? That was quick. Or apparently it was just really slow getting to Boston. Wow, that can be frustrating. But now you've got no excuse!

Bande de Filles (Girlhood)

* * * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 10 May 2015 in the Brattle Theatre (first-run, DCP)

Girlhood opens with French teenagers playing American football until the field lights go off, presumably after the teams playing le foot are done with it. Most, if not all, of these girls are black, immigrants or the children of such, and maybe considered not really French by many of the people around them. So they wind up in this isolated world seemingly surrounded by France on all sides, trying to carve their own space as best they can, hopefully as well as the film itself does.

The girls peel off from the group until only Marieme (Karidja Toure) is left; she flirts with Ismael (Idrissa Diabaté) and then heads up to the apartment where her family lives. Though her mother Asma (Binta Diop) is the one holding down a job, older brother Djibril (Cyril Mendy) rules the home like a tyrant, and Marieme warns her developing younger sister to wear lose clothing when he's around. Though she wants more, she is told that she does not qualify for high school, and as she gets that disappointing news, she meets Lady (Assa Sylla) and her friends Adiatou (Lindsay Karamoh) and Fily (Marietou Toure). They take her along for shoplifting, parties, and the occasional fight, and it may be the first time that anyone has fully accepted her.

It's a hell of a thing to be told at 16 that you are more or less relegated to a second-class life, and Marieme meeting Lady and company at that moment can seem like either conformation that she belongs with the gangs and lowlifes or an immediate counter to the schools' assessment - they see value in her even if the rest of the world doesn't. That is, in general, where the first one or two of the film's four acts spends most of its time, simply showing these girls as enthusiastic, figuring out that they have power as women, especially when they band together. There's not necessarily much plot in the early going as the audience gets to know Marieme and her new friends, and not just them specifically. It's about getting used to how teenage girls chatter and obsess, something that can seem like an annoying din to outsiders but is not so strange once one has acclimated.

Full review on EFC.

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