It’s better than Boyhood, that’s for sure. In a time where racial tensions flared again, in the context of this particular film with the vote for Brexit, Girlhood asks what it means to be a black woman in France.
This is a film of moments. There’s the moment of trepidation and rage while being followed in the shop. There’s singing and dancing along to Rihanna’s Diamonds. There’s the moment of victory in putt-putt. There’s the fight. There’s the kiss.
Like most of us, being a black woman is the same as being any human being. It’s a life of joy and wonder, of beatings and bitterness. But unlike the rest of us, there are challenges. Cultural limitations that just now women are breaking through. There is societal oppression, there are fragmented families. To be black is to be broken, to be a woman is to be beautiful. To be both is a triumph.
While Tangerine tried to explore the most marginalized person imaginable at their lowest moment, Girlhood tries to explore a similarly marginalized person in both the highs and lows. The result is a film that feels much more even and honest than Tangerine. And did I mention that it’s better than Boyhood?
© 2016 James Blake Ewing