(Preface: I’m sorry about the awfully long radio silence, but between work, fictionBOX, my viennale-screenings and the occasional get-together with friends and family, there simply wasn’t any time left to write reviews for this blog. I’m back now, and will provide you with reviews for the remaining 34 movies that I saw at this years Viennale over the course of the the next 2-3 weeks.)
Continuing my personal “Viennale 2014”-theme of movies that offer a window into another world (figuratively speaking, and compared to the one I’m living in, of course; your mileage may wary), “Bande de filles” is about a young woman growing up in the projects in the outskirts of Paris, who gets tangled up with a female gang. It’s fascinating, engrossing, revealing, and overall a really strong film.
There are many things about “Bande de filles” that I really liked: The insights into the youth culture in France, the social problems, the dynamic within the titular girl-gang, the performances from everyone around (with Karidja Touré a particular standout), and the great electronic score. There were also many great individual scenes, like the perfect feel good moment in the hotel, set to Rihanna’s “Diamonds”. It was great to see how this frightened, oppressed and reserved girl finds her inner strength through the bond that she shares with the other girls. How they support and bolster each other. Still, it’s not all sunshine and roses. Not only do they have to defend their standing against other girl cliques, it’s also fairly obvious that as strong as they may be as a group (and against other girls), that doesn’t prevent them from still being suppressed and/or exploited by men. Having the gang as support helps, and also offers some much-needed release for their frustration, but it’s no cure-all.
The one part of the movie that I didn’t like that much were the last 20-something-minutes. There’s this one scene where they all meet up in the hotel room, and afterwards there’s a long fade to black, and I was certain that this was it, and that the movie was over. Looking back, I would have preferred it if that would actually have been the case. Instead, we get a sort of epilogue that felt tacked on, missed the dynamic of the group that made the movie so great until then, and that was rather clichéd and not very interesting. The only scene of that part of the movie that I really liked was the proposal, and Vic’s reply, but they might have well showed that earlier. Other than that, I felt that the last 15-20 minutes didn’t manage to live up to what came before, and didn’t really enrich the movie in any way. I also think that the scene before would have been a stronger ending than the one that we ultimately got. Still, the rest of the movie is strong enough to mostly make up for the slightly disappointing finish.