Black Girl ★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.


Incredibly powerful ending (by which I mean the epilogue—husband bringing the mask to Dakar) achieves a haunting poetry that the body of the film lacks. Or perhaps it's more accurate to note that most of Black Girl falls into my personal blindspot regarding straightforward depictions of abuse/oppression/subjugation/etc. With few exceptions, there's just insufficient complexity in these scenarios for my taste, and while I can appreciate what a radical political statement this film was (and, sadly, to some extent still is), there's neither enjoyment nor illumination in watching someone get gradually beaten down to the point where she decides to cut her own throat. Sembène makes Diouana angrier and more openly defiant than a typical victim—even her suicide is essentially a fuck-you gesture—and that might have inspired a fascinating Servant-like dynamic were Madame and Monsieur not so one-dimensionally awful and oblivious, respectively. (That would also likely have necessitated a more standard running time—at 59 minutes, this plays more like an attenuated short than an abbreviated feature.) But Monsieur's too-little-too-late effort to make amends, and the reception he receives, ends the movie on such a goose-pimple note that I find myself wanting to embrace it much more than I actually do.