Yeah, You Should Really See 'Girlhood'

First of all, it's a film almost entirely about young black girls. The protagonist, Marieme (played tremendously by Karidja Touré) is sixteen with low self-esteem and even lower prospects. She and her troubled family live on a run-down estate in the outskirts of Paris; her brother is abusive, her mother works a night shift, her father is absent and she is responsible for caring for her two younger sisters. Already, this sounds like a gritty drama.

Secondly, this ain't your ordinary 'coming of age' film about a young girl who 'finds herself' in the midst of flourishing friendships, an unexpected romance and breaking free from whatever is holding her back - although, come to think of it, that is the story line in its most basic form. What makes Girlhood stand out, though, is that it's very, very relatable whilst also being a bit surreal. Whether it's becoming friends with the most unlikely of groups, getting drunk with said friends in a hotel room and dancing away to Rihanna's Diamonds with all the passion your limbs will allow, the infatuation with someone you should probably avoid or getting over-zealous during a tense match of crazy golf, there are elements to this film that speak volumes to a lot of young people - not just in Paris, not just in Britain, but everywhere.

Like I said it's also surreal, because it deals with gangs from a perspective that's never really been brought to the big screen before. There are two fight scenes where a pair of rival girl gang members go at each others like feral animals while bystanders rabidly urge them on and film them on their phones. But the dark context of the film is juxtaposed with the phenomenal cinematography; it's one of the most beautifully shot films I think I've ever seen, and during certain scenes you'd be forgiven for thinking you were watching a French spin-off of a Channel 4 drama series like Skins it's so angsty and arty.
But most importantly, director Céline Sciamma has made a funny and fiesty film about female empowerment via friendship and overcoming all the shit life can possibly throw at you, and of a young girl gaining respect for her tenacity (albeit not always making the right choice and sometimes quite violent).

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