Donnerstag, 9. Oktober 2014

Filmfest Hamburg: Bande de filles (Girlhood)

French writer/director Céline Sciamma's teenage drama "Bande de filles (Girlhood)" chronicles one girl's journey of self-discovery with great energy and compassion. Propelled by a charismatic central performance, it's tenderly involving all the way through, even if the narrative slackens here and there.

An efficient set-up quickly fills us in on the plight of the underprivileged heroine Marieme. Stuck in the projects with too many extracurricular obligations, she doesn't have the grades to advance in school, can't see her prospects and has fury to burn. It's not long before a clique of girls pick up on that restlessness and take her under their wings. With a newfound sense of empowerment and an outlet for all her frustrations, Marieme thrives with this group of friends. But dealings with that side of the law ultimately lead her down a path that, for all the fun and liberation it brings, is not necessarily her own.

The director shows a superb grasp of female camaraderie as well as the groove of the youthful and proudly African. While she describes the racial tension and the familial problems surrounding the gang well enough, the best scenes of the movie are inevitably those that are strictly, simply celebratory.To watch these tough young women dress up in stolen clothes just for the sake of the others and party in a hotel room all by themselves, the momentary bliss that seems to block out all the failed efforts and crushed dreams of the world outside really rubs off on you. The possibly indulgent but nonetheless infectiously happy Rihanna sing-along showcases the heavenly rhythm and vibe that only black people seem to possess.

Lead actress Karidja Touré delivers a star turn as the willful, persistent girl looking for a way out. Although the open-ended way the film concludes feels lazier than inspired and leaves too much in the air blatantly unanswered, it's a fully realized performance that stands on its own and prompts you to fill in the blanks.

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