No Matter Who


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

No Matter Who
"No Matter Who presents a stark portrait of female aggression in terms that most teenagers will recognise even if adults like to try and forget."

Pillow fights, semi-nudity, everyone sleeping side by side - scouting trips are one of those adolescent rituals replete with homoeroticism yet constrained by the same rigid rules as the rest of society: one absolutely must not do anything about it. Society may be changing in some places but this is Catholic France. These young girl guides wear cricifixes with their designer backpacks and skimpy shorts. Hymns are sung at regular intervals. At night, in hushed voices, the girls discuss whether kissing a boy can make one a slut.

In the woods, in a brief moment of isolation, one girl kisses another. It's abrupt, non-negotiated, the sort of kiss that could lead to trouble even if reciprocated. It is witnessed.

Simple in structure, quietly observational, the film follows the events that unfold afterwards, the girls' knee-jerk decision that the giver of the kiss could be punished. She could give them a bad reputation. Yet even as the homophobic attack takes place, there are mixed signals everywhere. The impression given is that the victim is not the only girl to have feelings like this; and that others, whether or not they do, may be deeply uncomfortable with the response. Actions seem driven by circumstance. Would things have played out this way if there had not been a witness? Can any of the girls escape being changed by what is, in the end, a desperate effort to preserve their illusory status quo?

Though the scenes of longing with which the film opens are bruised and delicate, and the scenes of play frame the girls as light-hearted innocents, No Matter Who presents a stark portrait of female aggression in terms that most teenagers will recognise even if adults like to try and forget. There's a sense that things could progress into still darker territory where it not for the sense of social restraint that lingers even in the woods - that the girls' safety depends on rules from the same source as those that create the tension in the first place. The absence of immediate adult authority, however, creates a world in which everything is open to question, paralleling the role of the woods in European folklore, creating a sense of danger that goes beyond the physical.

A shrewd, poignant film that will hit very close to home for some young viewers, No Matter Who says a lot more in 17 minutes than many films manage in five times that.

Reviewed on: 09 Jul 2017
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A girl on a scouting trip kisses one of her comrades and is subsequently subjected to a homophobic attack.

Director: Anne Claire

Writer: Anne-Claire Jaulin

Starring: Ilys Barillot, Louisiane Gouverneur, Anita Simic, Elisa Noyez, Pauline Demians

Year: 2015

Runtime: 17 minutes

Country: France


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