Sunday, 22 February 2015


Celine Sciamma's presentation of life in Girlhood is only gender-specific, racially-specific, culturally-specific from specific angles. She depicts life as so many know it, and as so many others will come to recognise it in this emotionally intense yet never melodramatic coming-of-age tale. Its dramatic narrative and Sciamma's bold, unsubtle direction may come off as gauche and trite to some, but that's only from a specific angle again - adopt a different perspective, and she has here created a definitive portrait of a defining moment, or series of moments, in the life of her protagonist, Marieme. And every narrative development feels natural, every stylistic choice carries great power, and there's a vividness to the whole enterprise that's irresistible. Girlhood is designed primarily to make the audience feel deeply for its characters, and it's inspiring to witness Sciamma draw out from oneself genuine, heartfelt emotions; this film is particularly affecting when it translates its characters' joys and passions, and when it indulges in moments of unguarded humour and spirited happiness. Almost anything is possible when we're manipulated to care about the people on screen, and all cinema is manipulation of one form or another, just not always as successful in its scheme as Girlhood. A vibrant contemporary soundtrack and colourful, bright imagery make for a consistently engaging experience, as does a perceptive edit that effectively makes Girlhood the emotional masterpiece it often is. It's a wonderful portrait of life and of living.