I didn’t know much about Girlhood (a.k.a. Bande de filles) going in. I saw an article in TIME OUT, a picture featuring 4 young black girls laughing caught my eye. A film with 4 black girls as the main cast, this never happens, not in mainstream media anyway. Is it weird that this makes me happy? Anyway, I digress…but then I saw it was about a girl gang in France. Of course…group of black girls = gang. Happy to say there was so much more to this film.
The film centres on Marieme, and we join her on a journey of ‘self-discovery’. I know that sounds like ‘sum ole bs’ – but it’s the best description for it. It’s a journey about trying to fit in, friendships, getting boys and basically girl issues that we girls all have to go through regardless of race or class. However, Marieme’s home life is difficult and this adds an extra element that I feel is the meat and bones of the film and is the real journey that keeps us interested. Marieme has to look after her 2 younger sisters while her mum works nights, a brother that seems to be very abusive towards her, and a whole lot of expectations placed on her by those around her. Anyway, stuff and things happen and Marieme ends up leaving home, selling drugs, yada yada and I quickly lose interest. Well not entirely. It just feels like there is another storyline plonked in the middle of the film, and you keep waiting and willing her to get back to her friends and sisters.
Regardless, I enjoyed the film and 100% recommend it. It was well shot and I appreciate that some unknown local actors were chosen for the main roles and they did a brilliantly believable job. Having never watched any of Céline Sciamma’s previous films Water Lilies and Tomboy, I didn’t know what to expect but based on Girlhood I am definitely interested in checking out her other work.