17 Girls

It starts with a physical exam in which a pale-skinned French teen named Camille (Louise Grinberg) informs the doctors prodding and measuring her that “I think I may be pregnant.” The gaggle of female friends who follow her around school don’t cast judgment; if anything, Camille’s ringleader status only increases in stature. Then another student (Roxane Duran) claims to be with child, and an idea takes hold: What if all of the girls in Camille’s circle got knocked up at the same time? The ranks of young moms-to-be grows as quickly as the gang’s bellies, and soon, this swollen sorority is talking about raising kids together in one big household. By the time the titular number of matriarchal candidates is reached, their boyfriends, parents and other authority figures are left wringing their hands over the WTF-ness of it all.

Pitched between docudrama and that dreamy headspace you’re in right before waking up from a deep sleep, Delphine and Muriel Coulin’s based-on-a-true-story tale plays like the most lyrical after-school special ever; it gives lip service to the teens’ anxieties and euphoria while threading in the occasional swoonworthy image. Whether the sibling filmmakers view Camille & Co.’s notion of a uterine utopia as the ridiculous folly of bored youth or the ultimate gesture of extreme take-back-the-womb girl power is questionable. But one thing is for sure: Underwater shots of spherical midsections floating past the camera prove that they understand the beauty of bodies in motion, even if their storytelling feels a little stillborn.

Follow David Fear on Twitter: @davidlfear

Release details

Release date: Friday March 2 2012
Duration: 90 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Delphine Coulin, Muriel Coulin
Cast: Juliette Darche
Louise Grinberg
Esther Garrel
Roxanne Duran
Yara Pilartz
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