‘Girl Picture’ review: A celebratory embrace of female adolescence

With all the blushed-cheeked happenings in the Finnish film “Girl Picture” — a busy, busy portrayal of three teenage girls navigating passionate flights — you could load up a week’s worth of special after-school messages ahead of time.

But fortunately, we are in the hands of a sensitive and non-judgmental filmmaker in Alli Haapasalo, who prefers to arouse our empathy by observing the joys and sorrows of near-femininity rather than being another moralist with raised eyebrows. and lessons ready. In fact, the actual title, more accurately translated into English as “Girls Girls Girls”, better reflects the celebratory aims of Haapasalo’s third feature, echoing as it does a phrase typically used to berate young women in Finland.

What she carefully crafted from a script by Ilona Ahti and Daniela Hakulinen is a naturalistic, enveloping triumph over the ideas that come with expectation and desire at such a tender, idealistic age, when a moment can feel like a eternity (for better or for worse). ) and each decision may be the threshold of all that the future holds. Until tomorrow promises another chance to feel normal, upset or excited again.

Tart-tongued cynical Mimmi (Aamu Milonoff) and her sweet-faced best friend Rönkkö (Eleonoora Kauhanen) are co-employees at a mall smoothie stand selling drinks with ridiculous names like Just Breathe and It Takes Two to Mango. They are cheerful strangers with a close bond, supporting each other’s passion neuroses: the intellectual Mimmi sees herself as above such concerns, while Ronkko – a romantic who is no stranger to groping sex with boys – fears not being able to experience pleasure.

Emma (Linnea Leino), a figure skating prodigy suffering from a sudden and disturbing lack of concentration, her dream may be in jeopardy because a European competition is fast approaching and suddenly she can no longer perform a triple Lutz.

When Mimmi and Emma look at each other at the smoothie counter one day, there’s an awkward exchange tinged with hostility – the former’s condescending armor intersecting with the latter’s open-book vulnerability. But there’s an undeniable spark and a memorable night ensues that reveals a whole new world of feelings, security and identity for the two.

Witnessing Mimmi’s change – once dismissive of sport, now head over heels for a workout athlete – Rönkkö is inspired to find her own ecstasy and approach the world of flirting and dating with an eye for the feeling she craves, rather that gratification the boys always seem to get. For Emma, ​​meanwhile, the blush of first love is like a miracle drug attacking the pressures of the ice rink, and it could mean even more.

There are obstacles and setbacks in every girl’s quest, of course, but unlike how we’ve been groomed forever from teen dramas to expect from a stern adult, a cruel peer or of a societal rule that he takes this troublesome form, Mimmi, Emma and Rönkkö are pleasantly both their own worst enemies and, in the context of a world that lets them be who they are, their only way forward. In other words, they’re gloriously human, and in this trio of vividly shot performances — especially those of Leino and Milonoff, whose eyes and postures convey so much — we feel every start and stop, every rush and every pain.

Haapasalo strikes the right balance between warmth and anxiety by using a square frame – sometimes tight, sometimes tall – for Jarmo Kiuru’s textured cinematography. She also confidently uses pop music and non-diegetic notation to slip us into the mood of her protagonists or change scenes to jarring effect.

“Girl Picture” is designed to be watched closely like a diary, but it’s also like being pulled along by a friend who wants you to experience what he’s going through, to see things the way he does. , that you get it and have a good time. time too. It’s kind of a special invite, and “Girl Picture” is more than enough film to make its compassion for teenage life a swirling, swooning high.

‘Picture of a girl’

In Finnish with English subtitles


Operating time: 1 hour, 41 minutes

Playing: Starts August 12, Laemmle Royal, West Los Angeles

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