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City Pop

average rating is 4 out of 5


Sam Quarton


Posted on:

Jul 13, 2022

Film Reviews
City Pop
Directed by:
Lina Pavlova
Written by:
Lina Pavlova
Isabelle Godinot

A fabulous explosion of girlhood vigour is proffered in director Lina Pavlova’s City Pop, underscored by Cameron Wight’s playful bedroom pop sound.


There’s something very Clairo about City Pop, a delightful exhibition of bedroom pop whimsy set to the sound of playful synths and lo-fi drumbeats. Take, for example, the setting: a teenage girl awkwardly pouts and preens around her room, sparkly microphone in-hand and performing to a sold-out crowd of teddies and stuffed animals of all shapes and sizes. But this pared back aesthetic is not the result of impersonation; it is tapping into a zeitgeist of female liberation where the bedroom becomes a boundless space to explore and world build.


In City Pop, model Isabelle Godinot is our Clairo, who’s girlhood vigour explodes in a fabulous pell-mell of animated smiles and natty dresses as she parades around her bedroom – which moonlights here as Godinot’s personal X Factor stage. It is a playful yet powerful game of dress up: Godinot swaggers with soigné as a showman – complete with old-fangled top hat and cane – one minute, and pouts like a pop princess on a world tour the next, maintaining complete agency over her identity and power to destroy and reinvent it at an instant.


But it is Cameron Wight’s convivial synth sound that lines Godinot’s fluid movements with apt exuberance, conjuring up images of endless possibilities refracted in the sequins of a sparkling dress as the actress glides from one character to the next. There is also deft camera work at play here: cinematographer Aya J. Zabadne sets her misty-eyed frame amongst Godinot’s teddies, evoking the sentiment that we have been invited – and trusted – to witness the inner workings of her soul laid bare in a state of exaltation.


One could argue the title “City Pop” is a misnomer for a music video set entirely in one room, but this could not be further from the truth. Godinot’s ebullient nay elegant performance transforms the set into an expansive metropolis; a vestibule into the possible where identity is entirely of one’s own making. This is liberating filmmaking.

About the Film Critic
Sam Quarton
Sam Quarton
Music Video
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