Film Friday #264

God Help the Girl (2014)

Eve (Emily Browning) is a recovering anorexic who has just been released from the institution where she has been dealing with a slew of emotional problems. She moves in with James (Olly Alexander), a fellow musician who has been teaching Cassie (Hannah Murray) to play guitar. The three bond through their issues and decide to form a band, one where Eve will write the majority of the songs. As the summer continues Eve and Olly get closer but is it time for her to break out on her own? I have to admit that the main reason I decided to watch this is because I am a big fan of Olly Alexander’s band, Years & Years and it’s easy to see just how musically talented he is from his role in this film. I was also really pleasantly surprised by how lovely the songs were. On the other hand  Hannah Murray is just playing her character from Skins and Emily Browning is as vapid as ever. They both have quite sweet singing voices but about halfway through this I just stopped caring about what was going to happen to the characters. Might just be worth getting the soundtrack instead of watching the actual film. 2/5

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Be warned: Hipsters are coming to your town

White Oleander (2002)

Astrid (Alison Lohman) lives with her mother, Ingrid (Michelle Pfeiffer) a manipulatve and passionate artist who lives a wild life caring little for societal conventions. When Ingrid meets Barry (Billy Connolly) she breaks all her own rules allowing him to get under her skin – a decision which ultimately ends in murder. With Ingrid in prison Astrid is bounced through a series of foster homes where she must employ the survival instincts she has learned from her mother while Ingrid attempts to influence her life from afar. As Astrid confronts the harsh realities of life without her mother she begins to realise that when survival means closing yourself off to everyone around you it might not be worth it. Pfeiffer is absolutely excellent as the complex and often infuriating Ingrid and although she has a lot less screen time than Lohman has her performance is the one you remember. While Lohman does her best to bring across Astrid’s struggle to cope without the presence of her mother, dealing with her burgeoning sexuality and understanding the complexity of male-female relationships, she never quite shines in what could have been a career defining role. This is an affecting, enjoyable drama based on the novel by Janet Fitch, which I vaguely remember reading and enjoying but it doesn’t quite live up to its potential. 3/5

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Mom, your flower arrangements might last a little longer if you try water instead of milk

Girlhood (2014)

Marieme (Karidja Touré) lives with her family just outside of Paris with her mother, sisters and older brother. Her mother is rarely present, spending all her time working so Marieme often takes care of her younger siblings. At the same time she is menaced by not only her brother, who is involved in a gang but also by the local neighbourhood boys. One day she is approached by Lady (Assa Sylla) who is the “leader” of a trio of girls who run together. She suggests that Marieme joins them on a trip to Paris and she agrees on the spur of the moment. Soon she finds a sense of freedom and confidence within her new group who rename her Vic and bring her into their world of teenage shenanigans which involves drinking, getting dressed up and sometimes getting into fights. Unfortunately this sense of freedom is nothing but an illusion and as Marieme begins to face up to the reality of a society where the future holds very little choice, things come crashing down around her. I found this film really affecting personally. I have always been fortunate to have close groups of girlfriends in my life. While we never fought other girls in order to take their honour by de-braing them, there was always a special kind of freedom to being with just the girls, which still exists for me. And I could completely understand Marieme finding herself within the group and the chemistry between Touré, Sylla and Lindsay Karamoh and Mariétou Touré who play the remaining two girls is excellent. On the other side I found the oppressiveness of the rest of her life and the violence of the gender politics she was engaged in upsetting and thought-provoking. For me this is a must watch and very highly recommended. 4/5

Girlhood

Lady had just about convinced the gang that they should become country and western stars

Trophy Kids (2013)

This documentary looks at athletically gifted children and the parents who push them to achieve. It plays out much the way you’d expect. The parents are mostly living out their own failed dreams through their kids, the kids are resentful and no one is happy. In some ways you can see the need for parents to help motivate their children but there were some moments that genuinely broke my heart. I was particularly affected by the father of a little girl who was a talented golfer who called her a bitch when she missed a shot and also mentioned that he was very proud of her but could never let her know that. Even worse was the father of footballer, Justus, whose constant need to bully his son to tears was heartbreaking to watch. When it came to the Bible-bashing tennis mom, religious mania aside, I found the way she talked about her twins good nature touching and her encouragement of them to be positive, showing that it’s not all yelling and punishments. Nothing particularly groundbreaking but it did make me think… especially about all the ways I do not want to raise Little O. 3/5

Trophy Kids

Justus’ dad was adamant that he was going to win the trophy for “dressing yourself the fastest”

8 Comments

  1. Hi Abbi! Oooh I LOVE Girlhood! As for Emily Browning, I didn’t like her in LEGEND, somehow the romance just wasn’t interesting at all in that film, but it was watchable thanks to Tom Hardy.

    1. abbiosbiston

      Hey Ruth! I just find Emily Browning to be terribly bland… pretty but lacking in emotion. Kind of like early Keira Knightly.

  2. I’ve always meant to see God Help the Girl because I love the band Belle & Sebastian, one of the members of which did the songs for the film. But it so puzzles me that Hannah Murray’s character has the same name and general characteristics of her character from Skins! What a weird coincidence. Meanwhile, Trophy Kids sounds largely like a training exercise in how not to raise a child. That must have been a really frustrating one to watch!

    1. abbiosbiston

      It did feel a bit like they just transplanted the character from Skins, which seemed very lazy o me. The whole thing actually reminded me a lot of the latter seasons of Skins where it had all gone a bit wrong. Trophy Kids did quite upset me. There is one scene where a father brings his fourteen year old son to tears by telling him that he is not allowed to have an opinion or suggest any topics that he doesn’t want to talk about. It was horrible.

  3. MIB

    Glad to see you liked Girlhood. Chav life French style! 😛

    1. abbiosbiston

      I really did. The characters were very well developed and I thought it was beautifully shot.

      1. MIB

        Cool! Does this mean you’ll be exploring more modern French cinema then? 😉

        1. abbiosbiston

          Possibly. Depends on what Netflix has available 😄

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