The Movie Waffler First Look Review - GIRL PICTURE | The Movie Waffler

First Look Review - GIRL PICTURE

girl picture review
Three Friday nights in the lives of three teenage girls.

Review by Benjamin Poole

Directed by: Alli Haapasalo

Starring: Aamu Milonoff, Linnea Leino, Eleonoora Kauhanen

girl picture poster

I don’t mean to generalise, but female friendships, the bonds forged between girls and women (or, indeed, men and women), are far more powerful than the rough and tumble nonchalance of platonic male companionships. I mean, I do have male friends who I love dearly, but the true support, the conversations late late late into the night, the emotional interchanges; that’s girl stuff. Along with, yes, the constant drama, petty jealousies, and the all-conquering intensity of the connection that are characteristic aspects of having female best friends, and which I wouldn’t have any other way (being addicted to the above myself, of course). The affinity shared by girls is the bedrock of Alli Haapasalo (director) and Ilona Ahti and Daniela Hakulinen’s (writers) superlative Girl Picture, an utterly delightful and insightful representation of the phenomena of close female friendships and another powerful entry into the teen girl bildungsroman recently reaffirmed by the likes of Booksmart and Waffler fave Eighth Grade.

girl picture review

The set up of Girl Picture is simple, but, like the best friendships, the ostensibly straightforward narrative retains a deep and complex series of emotional truths and discovery. Over the course of three Fridays (the mystical, adolescent promise of the weekend is a prospect which, along with other aspects of teen existence, Ahti and Hakulinen’s script intuitively understands), we follow three late teen kids: Mimmi (Aamu Milonoff), a punkier, strident girl; Rönkkö (Eleonoora Kauhanen), who is shy but experiencing a burgeoning sexual awakening; and Emma (Lineea Leino), who is a dedicated figure skater undergoing her own crisis of faith.


Although on paper the representations sound stereotypical, you get the sense with Girl Picture that the girls are just trying on these roles as a necessary part of growing up, as a way of footholding their own identity, and to make some sort of mark on their contexts. In other words, the archetypes do not define them. This is especially true of Emma (probably the film’s most interesting, and liminal, character) who is facing a push/pull between a lifetime of training, expectations of success and a need to forge her own path.

girl picture review

Emma and Mimmi tentatively hook up, are in love by the next Friday and it’s all over by final weekend (hardly a spoiler: Girl Picture authentically respects the amplified microcosms of teen relationships and their doomed inevitabilities), while Rönkkö enters into a few awkward (heterosexual) hook ups of her own. This is essentially Girl Picture’s lot r.e. plot, but the emotional charge is all in the beautifully observed storytelling. Everyone is well aware of the awkwardness of early sexual encounters, but do you remember the ineptitude of the first time you went on a date to a restaurant? It was probably the only time you’d been to one without your parents, and you didn’t have the first clue how it worked, did you? Girl Picture acutely recalls these minor, epochal moments, along with sympathetically essaying the teen urge to self-sabotage, the deep loneliness of being a kid (there is a moment of dancefloor abandonment which just ended me), and the salvation found in friendship (again, it is difficult to imagine a film as keenly intense being made about boys).

girl picture review

Haapasalo frames scenes imaginatively, with an eye for interesting compositions throughout (Emma enacting a triple Lutz in the red-light roadside of car lights elegantly spins to mind). It’s a canny visual style that compliments the thoughtful subtlety of the script and performances. All too often female friendships are done dirty by the teen film: the binary oppositions of plastics, of mean and good girls. But what is most refreshing about Girl Picture is its generosity of spirit for its denizens, the portrayal of love and forgiveness between friends, its breezy refusal of cliché.

Girl Picture is in US cinemas from August 12th. A UK/ROI release has yet to be announced.



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