Sixteen-year-old Marieme lives in a low-income suburb on the outskirts of Paris, a rigid, male-dominated neighbourhood. Her poor performance in school leaves her with the options of either attending a vocational school or working as a cleaner in a hotel. One day, Marieme meets a trio of charismatic local girls who have swagger to burn. She quickly becomes integrated into their gang and begins to feel empowered—for better or worse—and finds a sense of freedom through her newfound style, attitude, and friends.
Shot with seductive verve, Girlhood tells a specific coming-of-age story of characters not normally represented onscreen. As Marieme, Karidja Touré is a true discovery. Her subtlety and vulnerability work to transform Marieme from an unsure girl to one finding her power as a self-possessed young woman with emerging independence.