Girlhood ★★★★

Title positions this a the feminist answer to Boyhood, but in fact, it's far more complicated than that. While Linklater's main concern is the nature of growing up and the attendant passage of time, Sciamma is concerned not just with a girl coming-of-age, but with the precise nature of "girlhood"—and as we see, necessarily so. From the opening scenes alone, where we see a group of girls immediately fall silent when passing a group of men, it becomes clear that girlhood is often defined not in and of itself but in relation to. While for men, by and large, normalcy is a given, for Marieme (who at the beginning, desires only to go to high school and "be normal"), it is something to be denied. But then, as the film progresses, and she tries on a variety of identities, she ends up realizing that what she had desired was still something to be given to her (her lover offers to marry her and make her "decent"), not something she could necessarily take for herself. Nonetheless, it's a tantalizing option. But in the end, it's all about identity (note the importance of names), with the film charting the chapters of her transformations in ravishing style, it should be noted, but also with immense nuance. By the end, the implication is that she's exhausted all the options she's been given and the frame moves away from her, settling on the background. But then, as the synth-fueled theme once again rises to the surface, she steps back in to the centre of the frame—defiant (the implication being that she will find her way somehow). It's empowering, not because it removes the possibility that she will fail, but because even if she does, it will be on her own terms.

Also, there's this fantastic scene.