Sign in using your account with
Girls' Talk: Finding Vent, Wherever it May Be
There are very rare moments, in which the self can find its release, can strip itself of all its pretences and speak its inner thoughts.
This happens in Mayye Zayed’s short film Girls’ Talk in the most strange of places. Set entirely in a girls’ school bathroom, the film shows the distant, yet very deep friendship that springs unconventionally between two teenage girls.
The rebellious girls do not adhere to the strict note that states, ‘Writing on the bathroom door is uncivilised behaviour.’ Instead, the bathroom door becomes their costumed Facebook wall.
One time, a girl writes a random thought and returns the next day to find that another girl has replied to her. She replies back and they continue corresponding for a long time, without ever discovering each other’s identity.
The way of communication, weird as it may be, gives room for the girls to express themselves freely. As they start to develop a sense of attachment, their thoughts become more and more intimate. They wait for the answer that feels like salvation to them.
Girls' Talk is such a beautiful and delicate film. The plotline is smart and realistic, the need to talk and relate to someone cannot always be fulfilled in regular relationships. When talking anonymously, embarrassment does not exist; you are saving face and finding relief.
The scenes, shots and lighting create a very lively image that instantly captivates the audience, and the story has a strong sense of familiarity to it. The film’s details are very abundant, ranging from the girls’ clothes and pencil cases that they take to the bathroom, to the numerous witty comments scribbled on the door.
Renaud Pijselman’s music is absolutely captivating and an excellent choice; certainly one of the most remarkable features of the film. It goes very well with the story, and keeps resonating in the viewers mind.
Girls’ Talk is produced by the Jesuit Cultural Centre as part of an independent filmmaking workshop, so one can assume that it is nearly a no-budget film. Naturally, it has some setbacks in sound and quality, but the end result remedies all that.
They would try anything as if they had no fear of failure. They weren’t afraid of screwing up because the process and the act of creation were the important parts; if the product ended up sucking it was no big deal because they’d already be at work on the next piece. At least that’s the vibe that the documentary gives off. It also helps that the modern day, grown-up No Wavers seem every bit as cool as they did back then.
Titled from a popular term which describes the early transfer of a young offender from a juvenile detention facility to an adult penitentiary, Starred Up is by no means an easy watch. However, as much as it is difficult to digest at times, there is a certain poetic beauty behind its seemingly violent and destructive quality that makes it difficult to look away from.
Shot within the walls of an abandoned Belfast prison, the film opens with troubled nineteen-year-old Eric Love (O’Connell) undergoing an embarrassing admittance process, involving a complete body strip down, as he’s transferred into an adult reformatory.
Immediately marked as a “single cell, high risk” type detainee, it doesn’t take long for Eric – whose frequent and violent outbursts got him relocated there in the first place – to stir up trouble and make enemies both with fellow inmates and security guards.
After a mistaken attack on another inmate lands the young delinquent into the disciplinary hands of the law, Eric is soon approached – and rescued – by the in-house therapist, Oliver Braumer (Friend), who believes that he can help the young man rehabilitate.
Unfortunately, getting to the root of Eric’s problems - and getting him to open up - is no easy task and Oliver - together with the other rehabilitating convicts - often find themselves the targets of both verbal and physical abuse. To top it off, Eric has to find a way to learn to share the walls of his new confinements with his estranged father, Nev (Mendelsohn), who is currently serving a life-sentence in the same prison.
Penned by first-time screenwriter Jonathan Asser – a former prison psychotherapist whose own experience with the British penal-system adds a hefty dose of authenticity and realism to the film – Starred Up, told through a series of wordless and violent expositions, is fuelled with gripping intensity which is hard to shake off. Relying on action, rather than words, the uniqueness – and the heart - of the story lies with the father-son narrative, whose bonding difficulties are depicted through the oppressiveness of life in prison.
Contributing to the movie’s relentless and uncompromising approach to despair and violence, O’Connell – mostly known for his role in the British TV-series Skins and recently seen as the lead in Angelina Jolie’s war-drama Unbroken – is an absolute standout; feral and unpredictable, his performance carries the film, while Mendelsohn is equally superb as a man whose persona and motives are seemingly hard to read.
Powerful, emotional but never too sentimental, Starred Up is a true British-prison drama classic whose quietly yielding power and passion for storytelling will leave you feeling captivated and moved.