Wednesday, November 7, 2012

17 Girls (Rhoades)

"17 Girls” Flaunts
Social Convention

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

 I was just reading an article about the rise of feminism in the ’70s, when ads like the National Airlines “Fly me” campaign and Clairol’s “Does she . . . or doesn’t she?” were deemed to devalue women. As a result my friend Gloria Steinem started up Ms. Magazine and Playboy quit (for a time) using the word “girls.” Instead, we had “Women of the …”
Now it seems to be okay to say “girls” again, both as a backlash of the Superwoman concept and as aging Baby Boomers seek to hang onto youthful flattery.
Of course, the French have always gotten away with it. And the recent movie “17 Filles” makes the translation to “17 Girls” acceptable.
At the risk of sounding sexist, I would have titled it “17 Foolish Girls.”
The Tropic Cinema is currently showing this Gallic film as a titular companion piece to its other feature “7 Psychopaths.” We’re only 10 psychopaths short of a high school prom.
However, “17 Girls” is less entertaining than it is an interesting examination of social convention and peer influence. Here’s the story of 16-year-old Camille who gets knocked up (to use that Katherine Heigl term) and in a show of solidarity her high school classmates decide to get preggers too.
You’d think this would make a nice little French comedy, but no – this is a drama.
Directed and written by two French women (sisters Delphine Coulin and Muriel Coulin), “17 Girls” reportedly draws on a true event that took place in Gloucester, Massachusetts, back in 2008: when 18 high-school students got pregnant at the same time – 17 girls joining the mommy track after finding out that one of their friends was expecting.
A film of generational disconnect, “17 Girls” gives us a gaggle of young women with no future who create one of their own making. An observant moviegoer compared the girls’ malaise to that found in Sofia Coppola’s “Virgin Suicides.”
Or to quote an old SNL skit, “Ah, to be young, stupid, and have no future at all!”

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