In “Tiger Stripes”, puberty filmed in gory version

Few debut works are as uninhibited as Tiger Stripes , by Malaysian director Amanda Nell Eu. Selected in May 2023 at Cannes Critics’ Week, where it won the Grand Prix, this horror film about puberty takes on Word is the reproach that overwhelms stubborn teenage girls: “Behave properly! » In a rural community, on the edge of the jungle, Zaffan (Zafreen Zairizal) literally exceeds the role of model little girl that her mother and her teachers want to assign to her.

Despite the bans, she stole a bra, pulled on the straps to show off, took off her veil to frolic in the river and catch frogs… When her first period came, her body became the scene of disturbing metamorphoses, which reveal his fury and rage. The film comes at the right time to embody the feminist slogan, taken from actress Judith Godrèche’s speech at the Césars ceremony on February 23: “Little girls are punks. »

Borrowing from the Hong Kong B series of the Shaw brothers in the 1950s and 1960s, Tiger Stripes is a riot of kitsch special effects, with cartoonish characters, accelerated movements, trances and screams… Interspersed with scenes captured on the phone portable – by the young actresses themselves – the film reflects, with astonishing freedom, the contemporary adolescent experience where it is no longer just a matter of examining oneself in front of the mirror, but through the image reflected by social networks.

Alternative fantasies

Inspired by Southeast Asian folklore, Tiger Stripes is also reminiscent of the work of French director Julia Ducournau, begun with Junior , in 2011. In this gory short film, a teenager of the same age as Zaffan, suffering from a so-called fulminating gastroenteritis, was shedding like an animal, which forced him to lift bits of skin ready to fall off in clusters.

At Amanda Nell Eu, the general picture of growth includes nails that come off, hair that grows in clumps, huge pustules but also fluorescent eyes and other alternative fantasies.

While the young girl scares herself, the progression of the plot plays, in fits and starts, between shame and the expression of a wild freedom which celebrates the wedding of the beautiful and the ugly, of the frightening and sublime… While just a few years ago the power of young girls was housed in a form of mischievous romanticism, we are witnessing a brutal transformation which has less to do with seduction than with the advent of ‘a person.

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