Girlhood: NZFF Review
Bande de Filles has a star-in-ascendance in its lead actress the young Karidja Toure.
She plays troubled teen Marieme, who's facing an uncertain future thanks to suffering grades, a bullying brother and no chance to break out from looking after her younger sister and brother. Wrapped up on the outskirts of Paris in a council area, things are looking extremely dead-end - until she falls in with a trio of other girls around her age, headed up by the sassy and determined Lady.
However, one incident later and Lady's star is in the descent, thanks to the savage nature of the streets. This gives Marieme the chance she potentially needs to make something of her life.
This coming of age flick is utterly mesmerising, as mentioned, thanks to the lead Toure, who at once is fragile then turns ferocious at the drop of a hat. Yet, she never once loses her vulnerability as she broaches the opportunities womanhood is bringing her and that life is throwing her way.
But that's half the power of this subtly underplayed piece; it's a lament to the loss of youth, a paean to the negotiations we all make with ourselves as we try to forge our own identity and take our own steps to the next stage of life.
Deeply textured, extremely subtle and entirely captivating, Girlhood aka Bande De Filles is definitely worth your own time. It's not a showy film by any stretch of the imagination but the subtle changes in Marieme's character from clothing to the way she holds herself represents all that is right with this film - it does the small things brilliantly and by the end you're entirely captivated by an extremely natural Toure and her fragile big brown eyes, and rooting for her to make something out of the drab world she's come from.
Bonds of friendship ebb and grow stronger within Girlhood - one moment sees the friends tell Marieme that she's screwing up, but give her the power to be able to make that mistake and come back to them - it's a powerful message that speaks with universality. The celebration of these bonds and these friends form the central basis of the burgeoning of age and Marieme's being "strong and alone" as one character remarks only serves to reinforce that notion.
Moving, powerful, strong and bravura, Girlhood is utterly unmissable - Toure is bound for greatness, so saddle up now and thank the New Zealand International Film Festival for giving you the chance to witness the start of a stunning transcendence.