Movie: “Girlhood”

This is a very different Paris than the one I dream of. Where is the Eiffel Tower? The Louvre?  The Arc de Triomphe?  Where is the elfin Amelie-type mademoiselle, with a pixie haircut and a dimple?  Not a sign of any of them. Instead we have the high-rise social housing in suburban Paris outside the central city, with windswept barren gardens, concrete and a large gang of African -French girls.

Marieme is sixteen years old, living with her violent, menacing older  brother and younger sisters in a single-parent family where the mother is often absent working in a hotel. She is doing poorly in school, but resists the idea of vocational education or working in the hotel alongside her mother.  There seems to be no structure to her life. If she’s at school at all, it’s marginal to the rest of her life, and her all-girl gang dabbles in shoplifting, drinking and fighting. Re-named ‘Vic’ (for Victory)  by her gang, she escapes her brother but becomes involved in drug-dealing. However, she retains some degree of agency and makes choices, although the ending is ambiguous.

As you can guess, this is a pretty grim film, showing a Paris that is barely recognizable to tourists, and focussing on a Parisian demographic that is rarely depicted in the media at all.

This is advertised as ‘Last Days’ at Cinema Nova, so I suspect that I’ve caught it just before it disappears.

2 responses to “Movie: “Girlhood”

  1. I agree though not what you usually expect of a French film as it showed the non-romantic touristy Paris. Uncomfortable to watch at times and a very noisy film, it was rewarding and I appreciated seeing the realities of these characters Paris lives. Apparently screened widely in France and very popular. Worthwhile.

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