The final entry to Celine Sciamma adolescence trilogy, Girlhood, has been dubbed the female reciporcal to Richard Linklater's Boyhood. The two films however, could not be more different. Unlike Boyhood, Sciamma's film is not about lushy nostalgia or some insight realised on retrospection, although audiences will undeniably be plagued by both. Girlhood is more concerned with impulse, growth and identity, as overworked as the theme may be. The film reminds how terrifying and volatile and harsh the world seems when you're young and how a hard-shell identity can be your anchor to safety. Predictably plotless, Girlhood finds incredible meaning in small moments, in slow growth, in defiant changes and in personal insurrection. Where Boyhood is a primarily talking feature, with growth demonstrated through speech and wordy self-expression, conversation (charm), Girlhood is a film wrapped up in visuals, in demonstrative actions, moments and events. It isn't indulgent in wordy conundrums like the narcissistic, self-involved poetry of any Fault in Our Stars. What few dialogues to take place in Girlhood are clunky, raw and authentic, recognising that teenagers don't speak like poets or English teachers in love with the sound of their own voices. They suffer from the struggles of self-expression. Inarticulate as they are, redemption is found in the eloquence of their movements - these are creatures of light, freedom and impulse.
Girlhood dabbles in many issues: crime, sex, domestic violence and gender conflicts but exploits none, so that each significant part comes together only to form a derelict youth with mistakes and empty decisions. Girlhood's centerpiece comes in the form of Marieme, a marvel of a character who refuses to become a victim of her home life. She finds freedom in decisions she knows are ridden with consequences, finding the idea that any human being would deliberately sabotage their own welfare to be an exhilarating and liberating experience. Sciamma's work in capturing adolescence in its full, unapologetic form is patient as it is poignant, spirited and allusive.