Critic's Pick

'Girlhood' a fresh coming-of-age drama from France

With so much media focus on Oscar-nominated features, it is easy to overlook newly arrived foreign-language films such as the outstanding "Girlhood," playing for another week at the Sundance Sunset in Los Angeles. Beautifully observed, precisely directed and acted with wonderful conviction, this French drama takes one of contemporary film's most familiar themes — a teenage girl's coming of age — and makes it feel as if we've never truly seen it before.

Key to the success of "Girlhood" is the performance of Karidja Touré, who had never acted before, as the charismatic protagonist. As a 16-year-old girl who tries on a variety of radically different identities, even names, as if she were trying on clothes that might or might not fit, Touré has an instantaneously empathetic presence that carries us with her no matter how difficult, even perilous, her character's situation becomes.


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