The 1970s was a time of change and liberalisation in America. Following on from the conservative post-war years, the 1960s opened up a whole new world of opportunity; which continued into the next decade. Feminism began to make waves across the major urban areas, including LA. Hollywood reacted slowly, but it’s a period when several female directors made important breakthroughs, even if they didn’t necessarily receive the recognition they deserved at the time. Claudia Weill’s Girlfriends fits neatly into this category.
Susan (Melanie Mayron), an aspiring photographer, is trying to make ends meet while she chases her big break. When her best friend and roommate Anne (Anita Skinner) suddenly decides to move out and get married, her world is thrown into a tailspin. Whilst pursuing a dream of having her own exhibition, Susan flirts with relationships and new friendships. At the same time, struggling to come to terms with the reality of Anne’s new life.
Girlfriends has gradually come to be regarded as a seminal piece of feminist filmmaking. The Manhattan skyline provides a backdrop to Susan’s loneliness as Weill captures a snapshot of time and place. The dialogue feels organic. Documenting the twists and turns of female friendship by focusing on the complex and often contradictory aspects of relationships. Girlfriends is a wonderful piece of filmmaking which captures the female voice and the intricacies of everyday life.
Girlfriends is released on Blu-ray by Sony Pictures UK as part of the Criterion Collection on 16 November.