Girlhood – Céline Sciamma’s fight against fatalism

Girhood (Bande de filles) made in 2014 is the third film in Céline Sciamma’s accidental ‘trilogy of youth’ series, following Water Lilies, and Tomboy. The film discusses the themes of: alienation, class and gender.

The film stars Karidja Touré as Marieme, a young Parisian living in social housing. Above we find Marieme fighting her disallowed graduation into high school, fighting for a better life against societal expectations. The objective reason for Marieme’s dissallowment is her poor grades but the subtext is clear. The teacher facing Marieme asks her question in the final frame grab rhetorically, a non rhetorical question asked rhetorically—how arrogant.

Like the rest of the cast, Karidja Touré is a remarkable first time actor.


We travel with Marieme through various life stages, conveniently signposted by her hair. Her high school rejection leads her into the arms of a friendly gang which later escalates into organised crime. The film is careful to show Marieme always in charge of her immediate situation without sense of institutional exploitation.


Throughout her journey Marieme cares for her next youngest sister, who in the final frame grab she reprimands after catching her mugging a young woman. Marieme has full awareness of her situation and is scared of her negative influence. Despite her precarious life, we never see Marieme more scared.


The film begins with Marieme entering her home like any teenager. We’ve followed Marieme’s journey, which involved a positive and deep adult friendship with another young woman, and now culminates with her leaving her journey’s negative influences to return home. She decides whether to enter, whether it’s time to also leave her family unit and start on the road to putting societal expectations in their place.

Reference: Girlhood – Wikipedia

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