Despite being super rare (it's not been shown in London since it came out in 78) I have been lucky enough to see Girlfriends twice recently - once at the BFI, second time at the ICA. It's about two best friends in their 20s, Anne and Susan, getting on with their lives in New York.
The film is very much like an original 'Frances Ha', equally as awesome, it's even been described as 'Frances Ha directed by Woody Allen', it's said to be Stanley Kubrick's favourite film and have inspired Lena Dunham. It's a brilliant watch with a good heart - funny, introspective and gentle. The two main characters are great, and both equally identifiable - both are struggling with their place in the world after Anne leaves their flat share and figures out life with a husband and a baby whilst Susan learns how to be herself.
The arc of the film is getting to be yourself and making life work for you whilst getting over the grief of having your best friend get married and learning to be alone. I love how as Susan grows more accustomed to living alone and become settled, she starts to take an interest in how her flat is decorated - cardboard boxes are replaced by pot plants and movie posters.
Part of why I love this film is that it deals with lots of different facets of life - men, careers, how we look and feel, family and especially female friendships. Female friendships are there in background of films, sure - but mostly they're built on the foundations of discussing relationships, or out of some kind of competition.. There's a scene in Girlfriends after Susan has argued with her best friend and her boyfriend and she is comforted by another supportive female friend, and there's a tender scene where they are hugging on the sofa, which is totally relatable, reassuring and lovely - you don' see this in many movies!
So why doesn't this film have the same cult standing as Annie Hall? Perhaps / probably because it was directed by a woman, and thank god it was, not least because we know Woody Allen will never
be a feminist icon. What's crazy is that the film is still relevant today, we're all just making sense of what our lives are about right now.
Claudia Weill, thank you so much for making this film. I Am Dora, thank you so much for screening it. It's made me think about a lot of things and feel less alone. X