Newcomer Karidja Touré makes a mesmerising impression as a teenager drawn out of her shell and into a black girl gang in Céline Sciamma’s energetic and deeply empathetic drama, set in the tough suburbs of Paris.
“Bursting onto the screen in a blast of buzzing power pop, Girlhood from Céline Sciamma (Water Lilies, Tomboy) is marked from the outset by its energetic embrace of the complexity and contradictions of underprivileged, urban teenage life. An (American) football game is in progress, but the players beneath the pads are all female, mostly black, and speak a slangy colloquial French: they are, as the French title has it, a ‘Bande de filles’, a gang of girls from the same notorious Parisian suburbs that spawned La Haine.
Choosing to locate her story in these drab, socio-economically depressed surroundings and to tell it through the eyes of a young black girl is not only a departure for Sciamma, whose previously equally well-observed coming-of-age tales have played out in mostly white middle class settings, but a risk, and yet it pays off in absolutely triumphant fashion. Girlhood is a fascinatingly layered, textured film that manages to be both a lament for sweetness lost and a celebration of wisdom and identity gained, often at the very same moment.” — Jessica Kiang, The Playlist
“This wonderful coming-of-age drama feels particularly relevant to a New Zealand audience. In a stunning, star-making debut performance, Karidja Touré plays Marieme, a troubled teenager from the Paris projects whose sense of self transforms when she falls in with three other girls her own age. I’m not in the best position to assess the authenticity of the film’s portrayal of these girls and where they come from, but it felt more real than any other teenager-centric film I think I’ve ever seen.” — Dominic Corry, NZ Herald