Title: Bande de Filles (Girlhood)

Director: Céline Sciamma

Starring: Karidja Touré, Assa Sylla, Lindsay Karamoh, Marietou Touré, Idrissa Diabate, Simina Soumare, Cyril Mendy, Djibril Gueye.

‘Girlhood’ is not Richard Linklater’s female equivalent to ‘Boyhood’, but surely is just as powerful in telling a teenage girl’s coming of age story.

Writer-director Céline Sciamma, just as she did in her previous movies, ‘Water Lilies’ and ‘Tomboy,’ newly focuses on the struggles and conflicts of young women in today’s pressure-filled society. She decides to pay homage to Jean-Luc Godard’s classic ‘Bande a Part’ (Band of Outsiders), naming her latest work ‘Bande de Filles,’ (Band of Girls) as both stories explore the strivings of those who live on the margins.

Marieme lives in the outskirts of Paris and is profoundly oppressed by her family setting, dead-end school prospects and boys’ law in the neighbourhood. She has the illusion of starting a new life after meeting a  trio of free-spirited girls and changes her name to Vic, along with her dress code, and attitude. The new girl becomes a bully to be accepted by the gang, hoping that this will be a way to freedom.

In Sciamma’s movie we truly feel the power of sisterhood as a very real, essential and comforting force in these young women’s lives, although along the way it won’t suffice to survive in a man’s world. Feminine identity needs to be suppressed to avoid the wanton label, and manhood becomes the best armour a woman can wear to be immune to harassment. The debutante actress Karidja Touré, is incredible in representing this, as her sixteen-year old character tries on radically different identities, as if she were trying what clothes would fit her best.

Womanhood and girl power is explored in ‘Bande de Filles’ with grounded disillusionment: feminist ideals are out of grasp to the misfits of society, where the only momentary escape is a girlhood camaraderie, that mimics   the masculine one as synonym of strength.

Technical: B

Acting: B

Story: B-

Overall: B

Written by: Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi

Girlhood Movie Review

By Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi

Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi, is a film critic, culture and foreign affairs reporter, screenwriter, film-maker and visual artist. She studied in a British school in Milan, graduated in Political Sciences, got her Masters in screenwriting and film production and studied at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute in New York and Los Angeles. Chiara’s “Material Puns” use wordplay to weld the title of the painting with the materials placed on canvas, through an ironic reinterpretation of Pop-Art, Dadaism and Ready Made. She exhibited her artwork in Milan, Rome, Venice, London, Oxford, Paris and Manhattan. Chiara works as a reporter for online, print, radio and television and also as a film festival PR/publicist. As a bi-lingual journalist (English and Italian), who is also fluent in French and Spanish, she is a member of the Foreign Press Association in New York, the Women Film Critics Circle in New York, the Italian Association of Journalists in Milan and the Federation of Film Critics of Europe and the Mediterranean. Chiara is also a Professor of Phenomenology of Contemporary Arts at IED University in Milan.

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