With staggering self-assurance and disarming creativity, director Houda Benyamina bursts onto our screens with the frenetic story of Dounia, a teenage girl living in a crime-fuelled suburb on the outskirts of Paris. Along with her best friend Maimouna, the budding entrepreneur vies for the attention of local dealer Rebecca, whilst simultaneously embarking on a fraught emotional relationship with a handsome male dancer who has caught her eye. But as Dounia’s work and personal lives rapidly escalate, her control begins to slip and she soon finds herself dangerously out of her depth. A neat feminist twist on the typically male-centric terrain of the gangster thriller, this imaginatively directed and sharply-performed drama signals the arrival of some major new talents. In its depiction of female friendships and power dynamics, the film makes for an interesting companion piece to Céline Sciamma’s Girlhood, while as a vibrant explosion of youthful energy and imagination, it stands defiantly on its own.
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