★★★★ Directed by: Olivier Afonso Starring: Denis Lavant, Dany Verissimo-Petit, Manon Azem, Camille Razat, Anne-Solenne Hatte, Tiphaine Daviot, Margot Dufrene, Louise Blachère Grimmfest Film Festival Review by: Darren Tilby
A wonderfully over-the-top action-revenge film that had me laughing far more than I ever expected. Unapologetic in its bawdy and brash sentiment, Girls With Balls is a riotous, manic and bloody exploration of what it means to be a team player and embracing the tropes of the genre, before then kicking their heads in.
A girls volleyball team, The Falcons, end up stranded in the middle of nowhere after an altercation with a less than savoury group when their minivan breaks down. Unbeknownst to the girls, said group are cannibalistic hunters, who then pursue the girls through the forest; expecting an easy time. But these girls aren't going to be taken down so easily, and soon, deep in the forest, the hunters become the hunted.
There’s a great cast of French talent on screen here: Denis Lavant is the perfect mixture of diabolical and camply menacing in his role as the head of the hunters group, and Victor Artus Solaro, as the volleyball team coach, proves he’s a more than capable comedic actor; injecting a healthy dose of humour into the film. And the girls? The girls could not have been better selected: each one brings something unique and loveable to the film and they're having good chemistry seems as clear as day; creating a feeling of real sisterhood. The girls can be funny, they can banter with the best of them, but when pushed, they can be implicitly fierce. Of course, there’s always one who isn’t such a ‘team player.’
The cinematography and soundtrack are both fairly simple and competent in construction. The film seemingly shot on location, has a real backwoods feel to it and conveys the almost hopelessness of the girl’s situation with real finesse.
Girls With Balls plays out like a very French Severance and is the kind of film you’ll enjoy infinitely more if you go into it not expecting anything too serious: in fact, there’s almost a mature comic book vibe in its manner, something in the same vein as the Kick-Ass movies. The over-the-top violence and genuinely funny, dark humour spotted throughout, lighten a film which otherwise may have become too severe.
While being ‘nasty’ at times, I actually found the most shocking thing to be just how consistently funny the film was. There is some fantastically morbid humour here: I had expected a full-on gorefest; even Lavant’s utterly repulsive degenerate leader has a kind of funny swagger as he parades around; teasing his victims. If you’re not the kind of person who usually enjoys French-language films, then honestly, this isn’t likely to win you over, but I enjoyed it very much and would implore you to at least give it a go.
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