I had high hopes for Just Girls. A documentary on the LGBT experience of young people in Poland seemed both vital and timely given the country’s current political climate. The opening scene of a young woman floating on water with a stream of consciousness narration taking us into her thoughts seemed promising. The scene is beautifully shot and reminds one of Shakespeare’s Ophelia. The viewer is prepared to go into the lives, thoughts, heartaches, joys, and experiences of these young Polish girls in what appears to be a documentary/narrative mashup. Just Girls never delivers.
Just Girls is made up of two components. The first involves slice-of-life documentary scenes and the second involves stylized flashbacks of childhood. Director Miguel Gaudêncio alternates between the two; however, instead of one component illuminating the other, the alternating makes the narrative incredibly disjointed. In addition, the slice-of-life scenes do not reveal much about the characters. Sure, these are young people. One should not expect profound insights in their conversations; however, sometimes the most banal conversations reveal deeper truths. That is not at all the case with Just Girls. It is very hard to connect the flashback scenes with the documentary components. The whole thing is a big jumble of ideas and images.
There is a scene early in the film when one is still hopeful of some character and plot development. The scene involves a social ball wherein young people are partnered up and dance. Two young ladies dance, kiss, and are quite openly affectionate with each other. The viewer wonders if the other attendees are approving of the displays of affection or if this an inclusive ball. No context is given. Just Girls is a missed opportunity. The subject matter deserves much more focused attention.
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