Girlhood ★★★

This movie reminded me that I should really write a review about "Boyhood," because this really helps clarify exactly where "Boyhood"'s faults lie. Not to say that the films are striving for the same messages at all, but "Girlhood" happens to be a much better portrayal of growth than its Linklater counterpart (really only similar by title, and shhh I know Boyhood is also supposed to be about passage of time but it's not really just agh i'm not talking about that movie right now stop making me compare these two).
I was really, really, REALLLY tired when I watched "Girlhood." Usually I fall asleep halfway through movies when I'm this tired. But "Girlhood" kept me awake. The film is alive, goddammit. It's ALIVE. It's fun and thrilling and and so perfectly adolescent. In Slant Magazine's review of the film, they complained that the film understands its protagonist so well that it can't help behaving like her itself. This is, to an extent, a valid complaint. The film is not quite perfect - the film slacks a bit in the second half- and certainly quite all over the place. But these intentional imperfections serve only to magnify what it feels like to be this girl. There is no judgement in this film. Absolutely zero. It is a film made entirely of compassion. It is not a dissection of the main character but instead an empathetic series of observations. For jaded filmgoers, the narrative structure problems can be hard to ignore, as might a couple of the performances or other more tangible details.
But try for a second to forget about all that when you're watching this film. It's honestly not that hard, it's just unfamiliar for film buffs who just think too damn much. Because even with a film with as many faults as "Girlhood," there is still something hee that's simply magical - there's a love for the characters on the screen, despite their choices, there's a total resistance to reducing any of the characters to tropes or stereotypes, a desire to make a film about a specific group of people and have the film be rooted in a certain lifestyle rarely, if ever, portrayed on film, and make it universal. I am a white upper class male from America, and I fucking cried at "Girlhood," laughed at "Girlhood," felt for "Girlhood," and both gained a new level of understanding and recognized common ground. It's such a simple, elementary level description of the impact, I know. But it's really hard to do, and it requires not jsut cinematic skill but also basic human deceny from the filmmaker. So yeah, "Girlhood" is special.

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