Céline Sciamma: the good Water Lilies, the better Tomboy, and now her best, GIRLHOOD (Bande de filles). This latest tale -- of a high-school beauty named Marieme (who will soon enough be going by the alias of Vic, for victory) and her family and friends -- is filled with life, surprise and the kind of on-screen reality that is difficult to fake. This comes, I think, from a genuine and deep understanding of its protagonists. From first frame to last, the movie barrels ahead and takes you with it.
Crystel Fournier, catches those on-the-fly happenings that count for something at the time and in retrospect keep us thoughtfully musing, while her editor Julien Lacheray pieces it all together for maximum effect and enjoyment. It is as writer and director, however, that the filmmaker really shines. Her conception-- noticeably lacking in either sentimentality or gloss -- is nothing less that bringing to us the life of her heroine in such real and complete form -- good, bad and most often in between -- that we can only follow along and finally marvel at how complete the movie seems, even as it leaves us and Marieme up in the air -- but aware!
Karidja Touré (above and below) is a real "find," someone whom we will surely see again and again -- unless this young woman opts for some other career and life. Ms Touré, working from Sciamma's script, is able to let us enter her character so fully that we understand her thought processes, her needs and desires, her joys and disappointments.
Strand Releasing, in French with English subtitles, and running 112 minutes, opens this Friday, January 30, in New York City at the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center. In the Los Angeles area, look for it at Laemmle's Playhouse 7 in Pasadena on February 6, and then elsewhere across the country in the weeks to come.