What’s it about?
"Girlhood" is a coming-of-age film about teenage girl, Marieme (Karidja Touré), and the way she navigates living in an abusive home, absentee parenting, new friendships and the lack of educational opportunities. The movie pretty much chronicles Marieme's quest towards autonomy.
What I appreciate:
I just love this film. And I KNOW there have been some critique about the problematic nature of this film, but I couldn't help but just love this film!
The cinematography is nothing short of beautiful. I love the way the film language works in this piece. It's observational and a little distant. For most of the movie we are watching what happens to Marieme from a distance which truly allows us to rally for her. She is the heroine of this film and it's not often that we see a black girl's journey shot on film.
There's one particular scene that truly strikes me. It's a scene where they are singing in a hotel room to a Rihanna song. I couldn't help but cry during this scene.
I think the beauty of this scene, for me, came from the freedom these girls had, even though that sort of freedom isn't permanent. That moment was contrary to everything these girls experience in their day to day lives. It was seeing them sing and dance and do what they wanted that made me cry. It was the visual display of autonomy that may or may not exist for them in the other parts of their life.
I listened to some commentary about this film and a lot of the discussion surrounds the nature of the type of narrative that is being told with "Girlhood." It's as if this sort of violent, traumatic narrative is the only type of narrative that exists for black women/girls. In all honesty, it IS problematic. I still love the film, but it IS troubling to constantly watch black girls experience violence and dehumanization even when they are depicted as triumphant.
I think the discussion and hesitation of supporting this film is incredibly warranted. We should be asking for better representation and black women/girls should be depicted in art/media in the diverse ways we already exist.
Should you see it?
I would say yes, especially if you are a woman of color. I think it's an inspiring film with amazing actresses of color. I mean, almost EVERYONE in this film is a person of color. That's incredibly rare and just one reason that it's worth your time. If not just for the beauty in the way it's filmed.