Girlhood (2014)

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Jah Jah Paris
Paris, France

“out était goutu et épicé comme j’aime, même si plus d’épices ne m’aurait pas déplu” meaning “everything was tasty and spicy as I like, even if more spices would not have displeased me”
“Aubergines ( = potassium, sur lequel miser en cas de rétention d’eau 💦 )
Carottes ( = bêta-carotène, pour améliorer la résistance de la peau au soleil ☀️ )
Courgettes ( = fibres, nécessaires à la régularité du transit )
Pois chiche ( = fer d’origine végétale, essentiel à la bonne oxygénation du corps )
Quinoa ( = sans gluten + protéines végétales complètes )
Persil 🌿 ( = vitamine C, indispensable pour améliorer l’assimilation du fer )” meaning “Eggplant (= potassium, on which to bet in case of water retention 💦)
Carrots (= beta-carotene, to improve the skin’s resistance to the sun ☀️)
Zucchini (= fiber, necessary for regular transit)
Chickpea (= vegetable iron, essential for good oxygenation of the body)
Quinoa (= gluten-free + whole vegetable protein)
Parsley 🌿 (= vitamin C, essential to improve the assimilation of iron)”


Black Stories Film Series #16:

“Girlhood” (2014) by Céline Sciamma is a not so typical coming-of-age tale, starting as such and then twisting quietly into “Belle de jour.” Marieme (Karidja Touré) is a teenaged girl, and upon introduction she appears to be shy and self-conscious, as she attempts to blend into a new group of friends. The other girls (Assa Sylla, Marietou Touré, and Simina Soumare) are brazen and flippant, and to Marieme, fun. With a working mom and an abusive brother, she feels trapped in a life that is controlled by circumstantial frustrations, and these girls give her an outlet.

She quickly emerges from her shell, piece by piece, as she lets herself see the world through their eyes. Viewers tip toe behind Marieme as she meanders through each situation attempting to secure her own independence, and the inevitable reality that most quick fixes only lead to more obstacles, replacing one oppressor with another.

Sciamma (recently made waves with her stunning “Portrait of a Lady on Fire”) knows her way around silence and artfully replaces dialogue by creating an atmosphere that tells the emotional story louder than words would on their own. She navigates character development in “Girlhood” through snippets, and as the screen goes dark in between each one, she forces the audience to hold their breathe for one brief moment wondering if the credits were about to appear or if the story would be allowed to continue. Cinematographer Crystel Fournier carries out the moody vision for this film through use of vibrant natural color. As Marieme embarks on a more secretive life, silhouettes moving against a blueish hue or a deep red epitomized the decisions she made behind closed doors. These scenes are met with brightly lit norm-core lighting when she was with her friends or family.

“Girlhood” is a story about a young girl finding herself, but also understanding the way of the world. It is about the risks involved in developing street smarts, and the ever-present desire to fit in. Sciamma is telling a universal story of growing up, but with a more brash edge. It leaps from Linklater’s wholesome “Boyhood” to a story of “Girlz N the Hood” directed by Harmony Korine, then whittles itself back to something in between (landing maybe on Sophia Coppola or Deniz Gamze Ergüven). It’s whimsical, experimental and beautiful throughout. There is one fantastic scene where she shares a kiss with a crush and when their lips meet, the screen goes dark, as though the audience closes their eyes when she does.

The observations about race in France are limited, but present. As the girls shop around a local mall, one of the white employees tracks behind Marieme relentlessly before her friends aggressively address the situation. The unavoidable stereotype that black men and women face of living under the assumption that they are a criminal and might steal, no matter how innocent and young a person might look. “Girlhood” also moves along on the narrative that the circumstantial poverty associated with Marieme’s situation is directly linked to the lack of resources developed for communities of color. It is a reflection of the black working-class women and girls struggling to combat the stumbling blocks on the economic ladder.

It also speaks to the hushing up of loud mouthed girls. The way that the most raucous and snarky of them can be silenced by their oppressive routes – their brothers, fathers, the boys in their neighborhood who wield all the power. “Girlhood” is a slow-moving, quietly evocative story of a girl growing up that is illuminating and discreet.


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