Girlhood ★★★★

The opening scenes provide such a terrific distillation of everything that Sciamma is going to wrestle with here, as the boisterously laughing girls who had been expressing their power (playing that ultimate boys' game of American football) suddenly go silent and diffident once they're in the presence of the boys. And on some level this is really all about Marieme's quest to find something that gives her power: connection to Lady's bande de filles; her own ability to win a fight; association with the neighborhood crime boss; defying her brother and hooking up with a boy. The third act shift away from Marieme's interaction with her girls was initially jarring, but ultimately proves to be essential. This is really a story about Marieme trying on all the identities that seem to be the only ones available to a girl in her world, building to a final moment that provides a startling reassurance that she's going to keep trying on even more identities--even the ones that perhaps shouldn't be available to her--until she gets it right.