New review: She Monkeys

Hailing the coming-of-age story of adolescent sexuality and fierce competition between female equestrians, Ania Ostrowska has her heart set on the youngest of three heroines


Enough films have been made to remind us that growing up to become a ‘woman’ isn’t all sugar-and-spice and that teenage girls sometimes turn out to be… well, not too nice after all. Heavenly Creatures, recently reviewed by The F-Word, comes to mind immediately, along with Sophia Coppola’s 1999 film The Virgin Suicides.

A girl’s coming of age and negotiating of ‘her burgeoning sexuality’ (an obligatory phrase in this context) within the framework of patriarchal society and heterosexist culture is governed by this society’s expectations and rules. Her choices seem prescribed: if she ends up playing by the rules or if she attempts to transgress.

Increasingly films (like Céline Sciamma’s recent Tomboy) make a point of showing how tweens’ and teens’ sexuality is indeed more fluid and amorphous than society, obsessed with labels and categorisations, is ready to accept: the gender trouble they find themselves thrown into is of the adults making.

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Swedish director Lisa Aschan’s debut feature Apflickorna (She Monkeys), winner of Best Narrative Feature at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, doesn’t pass unequivocal judgement on its three central female characters’ actions or the results of those actions.

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