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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » 5 Girls
5 Girls
Facets Video // Unrated // September 25, 2007
List Price: $29.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted October 5, 2007 | E-mail the Author
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Review:

Teenage girls are often portrayed as spoiled brats ("My Super Sweet 16") or mean ("Mean Girls") in popular culture. The reality is that teenage girls often go through serious issues, such as trying to fit in with their peer group, academic pressures and self-esteem/self-image issues. As a guy, I can't imagine what woman have to go through, as they are constantly bombarded with images of what they should wear, how they should look, what they should have and how they should be.

Director Maria Finitzo's "5 Girls" is a portrayal of five young women between the ages of 13-17 trying to deal with growing up around Chicago in different situations. Corrie is a lesbian who feels as if she's an outcast at home (there is an early scene between Corrie and a classmate that is so quick and yet so mean that I'm surprised that the filmmakers got it on camera.) At home, she talks about how she just wants acceptance, but doesn't find it from her father and finds uneasy acceptance from her mother. She does, however, find a unique way to get back at her brother, teasing him that her girlfriend is prettier than his.

Aisha is a talented young woman who has been successful on the basketball court. However, she cannot escape her father's stern warnings when things don't go well on the court. While she notes that her father's ways are making her learn to be tough, she clearly is hurt by some of the things that her father has said in public, whether in the interest of being tough or not. Haibinh is an immigrant from Vietnam who pushes herself to do well in school and attempts to do volunteer work, but holds a strong desire to go back to her homeland to visit. Toby lives in the suburbs and is driven, outgoing and rather caffeinated. She also has to deal with high expectations and pressure from parents. Amber is a solid student, but others are worried that she's found herself trouble by being in a relationship with Antoine, a former drug dealer (a former teacher trying to help her with her college plans lets her have it about the relationship.)

The documentary's goal is to show that teenage girls of every background have to face many different issues on a daily basis - whether they be family, school or peer pressure - and that there are some girls out there who rise above their challenges and take positive steps to improve themselves and their futures (as we see in the "Where Are They Now?" section of the DVD, the girls have all suceeded in their own way since the documentary.)

The documentary is done on a fairly low-budget, but camerawork, music and other aspects of the production all seem reasonably solid. Clocking in at nearly two hours, the movie could use a few minutes of trims, but otherwise seems like a reasonably full and developed look at these five women. The doc does a surprisingly good job weaving between the different stories so as to not be jarring.

Overall, this is an interesting, mostly positive look at five different girls trying to navigate their teen years. All five were followed for two years.


The DVD

VIDEO: Facets presents the film on DVD in 1.33;1 full-frame, the show's original aspect ratio. While the documentary does appear a little soft, lighting is good and the picture remains clean throughout much of the running time, aside from a couple of slight instances of shimmering. Colors looked natural and were presented well, with no smearing or other faults.

SOUND: Clear, crisp stereo soundtrack.

EXTRAS: A brief "Where Are They Now?" text screen for each girl and an interview with the filmmaker that's so brief it could be called a trailer.

Final Thoughts: "5 Girls" is an enjoyable look at five girls from very different backgrounds who face challenges in their life and, the majority of the time, make positive and mature steps to try and succeed. While a tiny bit long, I was never bored. The DVD offers fine audio/video quality, as well as a couple of slight extras. A good rental for teenage girls to watch, as they can see that others are facing many of the same stressful issues they are.
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