“Girl Picture (2022).” When it comes to growing up and growing up, life can get complicated quickly. Trying to find a balance in exploring one’s identity while experiencing new relationships can lead to complex emotions and external judgments. In Alli Haapasalo’s latest work, the Finnish director explores the power of first love and acceptance and how it can easily define a young woman’s self-image.
By exploring uncompromising affection and sexuality through three young women over a three-week period, Haapasalo creates a profound example of the desire to be seen. Girl Picture is an almost perfect display of passion, desire, and the quest for liberation when it comes to identity.
Girl Picture (2022): Movie Review
Girl Picture sees best friends Mimmi (Aamu Milonoff) and Rönkkö (Eleonoora Kauhanen) right on the threshold of womanhood. Two young women, ready to embrace new experiences full of passion and pleasure, embark on a journey to rediscover themselves. Emma (Linnea Leino), on the other hand, has dedicated her life to figure skating and vows to be successful by any means necessary. When these three young women cross paths, they discover that the transition to adulthood is not always easy. But the joy of rediscovering yourself and your endless desires is worth the uncertainty and discomfort along the way.
Alli Haapasalo’s coming-of-age story is a vivid movie that honestly acknowledges the messiness of growing up, finding love, and healing from past traumas. Often required to function simultaneously during these experiences, young women are not given enough grace when it comes to handling situations poorly or finding the perfect balance to deal with such volatile and intense emotions. But Haapasalo realizes the importance of portraying these circumstances at such a tender age and does so graciously. Through its subtle direction, Girl Picture reveals honest truths about sex and love as they intersect with trauma and personal growth.
As expected in a coming-of-age movie, Girl Picture aptly captures the awkwardness of growing together and apart in female friendships. The screenplay by Ilona Ahti and Daniela Hakulinen remarkably underlines this dynamic through the three main roles, Mimmi, Emma, and Rönkkö. In addition, the story unravels their codependencies and unbreakable bonds, even though they had some conflicts along the way.
But that’s what makes Girl Picture so special. Each character exists as their individualized self and not to serve the growth or advancement of someone else. This is as real as it gets in showing how young women grow into adulthood when passion, friendship, and sex aren’t always perfect.
Through Mimmi, many of the movie’s themes of trauma and growth play out in her developing relationships. To that end, Milonoff’s performance is sensational. She excels in portraying such complicated reactions, demanding empathy from the audience regardless of their attitude towards her character.
Eleonora Kauhanen plays Mimmi’s best friend Rönkkö and is so exceptional in the role, charming in one moment and perfecting her comedic timing in others. Finally, Linnea Leino plays Emma with touching grace. She balances conflicting emotions so beautifully and showcases her acting range in a variety of ways, including subtlety and total eruption.
Although the story lacks a detailed explanation of why certain characters behave the way they do, it speaks to the complications of human emotions, especially for young women in adolescence. Sometimes an explanation isn’t enough to describe what and why a woman feels, and that’s what makes Girl Picture adorable and honest.
Backed by phenomenal performances in portraying complicated characters, the latest Haapasalo is a comfortable watch in composition and sentiment. Unapologetically showcasing the complexities of girlhood, it’s a joy to experience and witness sexuality, queerness, and female friendship in their honest fullness – without judgment or restraint.