French film offers bleak, affecting look at troubled teen.
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that the French movie Girlhood is a bleak but affecting look at life in the housing projects outside Paris, where young people have few options and little chance to improve their lives. The main character joins a girls' gang and is soon stealing, extorting money from classmates, and beating up members of rival gangs. There are a few surprisingly violent scenes, some kissing and innuendo (as well as a glimpse of a naked male backside), and frequent swearing (in French), including words that are translated in the subtitles as "f--k," "bitch," "s--t," and "skank."
A film that captures girl teen hood without hesitation and with dignity
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What's the Story?
Marieme (Karidja Toure) is looking for a way out of the working-class Paris suburb where she's stuck helping raise her younger siblings while their mom works all hours. She's hoping to go to high school, but is told that her so-so grades mean vocational school is the only option, a path that offers few prospects for a better life. Frustrated with her limited options, Marieme joins a gang of girls, where she's rechristened Vic (for "victory") and starts to recreate her identity. Soon, she's extorting cash from her classmates, shoplifting high-end clothes, beating up girls from rival gangs, and abandoning her siblings. It's a bleak, realistic, look at life on the lower end of the economic scale.
Is It Any Good?
With GIRLHOOD, director Celine Sciamma delivers a tour-de-force movie that will haunt you for ages. Not only are the performances (led by Toure's) incredibly moving, but the story itself, told in a stripped manner devoid of the annoying overproduction that plagues plenty of other movies, lays bare what happens when someone so young sees doors close to her before she has even begun to discover her potential. That Toure isn't a seasoned actress is both surprising and totally believable; her Marieme is authentic because the role, as Toure defines her, isn't overwrought or polished. She's simply true. Prepare to have your hopes frustrated and your heart broken.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about Marieme's life. Why do you think she joins a gang? What does it offer her that she doesn't already have in her life? What do you think you might do in her place?
What message do you think Girlhood is trying to convey? Is it trying to reach a specific audience?
How does Marieme's relationship with her family change as she becomes more involved with the gang? Do the changes seem realistic? Do you think they're irreversible?
What role do drugs play in Marieme's life?
- In theaters: January 30, 2015
- On DVD or streaming: May 19, 2015
- Cast: Karidja Toure, Assa Sylla, Lindsay Karamoh
- Director: Celine Sciamma
- Studio: Strand Releasing
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters, Friendship
- Run time: 112 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: February 26, 2023
For kids who love teen tales and foreign movies
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