Preteen girl looking at a cell phone with her parents

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Parents' Guide to


By Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Slow-paced coming-of-age drama has sex, some language.

Movie NR 2020 97 minutes

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Schoolgirls is slow, almost aimless. After many scenes depicting a lonely child desperate for the attention of her unresponsive mom, the big reveal is hardly a surprise. The mother's secret shame casts a shadow on the daughter, whose queries about her father remain unanswered.

The movie never gets any further than that. The camera lingers on the image of Celia lying in bed ruminating for long, long seconds, suggesting she's thinking deeply but we really don't know about what. Many scenes feel improvised, and the camera swings about without seeming purpose. It captures an overall sense of pre-pubescent curiosity about sex and the world but also the beginnings of prejudice, of class divisions, of biases among kids learned from parents and the church. The next generation is gearing up to shun and marginalize, just the way the previous one did. The movie suggests that when Celia sings aloud during a choir performance, this marks the start of her independence. It takes 97 minutes to get to this relatively insignificant moment, and it isn't worth the wait.

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