August 26, 2019  (Web Review)

Brave Girls

(2018) 68 min. In Gujarati w/English subtitles. DVD: $24.99. Virgil Films (avail. from most distributors). Closed captioned.

Reviewer rating: 3.0/4

Three young women from a Muslim community in Dholka, India, defy strict traditions that have uniformly limited the futures of females to basically arranged marriages and domesticity in this documentary. Karishma, Apsana, and Samira—all living with their parents—challenge expectations by attending a school that encourages young girls to seek out more (such as jobs and constant learning) as their lives unfold, while also offering a way for marriage-age women to have a second chance at completing their education. Directors Yashaswi Desai and Ellie Walton follow the three principals through moments of glee as possibilities in life begin to open up, as well as during tensions and conflicts in the trio’s homes over settling down and getting married. Not surprisingly, a desire for freedom and choices in learning eventually also leads to a yearning for more—such as genuine love with the partner of one’s choice—and some situations certainly become fraught at times (at one point, an outright escape from home takes place). Walton and Desai do a terrific job of shaping these intertwined narratives into a whole-cloth story about women fleeing generational bondage. Recommended. Aud: C, P. (T. Keogh)