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  Junior Overnight Transformation
Year: 2011
Director: Julia Ducournau
Stars: Garance Marillier, Yacine N'Diaye, Aude Briant, Virgil Leclaire, Raphael Mingau Lopez, Luois Dussol, Bernard Blancan, Virgile Bramly, Daisy Broom, Donatienne de Croisoueil, Christophe Kourotchkine, Manon Prevoteau
Genre: Drama, FantasyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Junior (Garance Marillier) is a thirteen-year-old tomboy who hangs out with the lads at school, much to her mother's dismay who wants her to be an obedient teen and take care of herself properly. But Junior is cheerfully disgusting: she just pretends to have showers, she mines rogue food from her teeth braces, and has no interest in hygiene. However, one day at school she begins to feel strange, like she has never felt before...

This twenty-minute short was writer and director Julia Ducournau's debut, before she had an international horror hit with Raw and won the Palme d'Or at Cannes for Titane, in both cases keen to push back boundaries of what was acceptable to be seen in the cinema in general. Not everyone was onboard with her passions, but you could go back to this little item and see the obsessions were present in her work almost fully formed from the outset.

There was a twist here, and it happened about two thirds of the way through, but essentially it was a coming of age tale as Raw had been, taking the process of puberty and applying it to what appears to be turning into a horror context. Therefore when Junior starts exuding slime and peeling off her skin to reveal a strange texture underneath, you could be forgiven for thinking she was going to turn into a werewolf or similar in full-on Ginger Snaps style before the end.

Adolescence is always a handy metaphor for horror movies to use, but Ducournau surprises you with a left turn that not only goes against the cliches of one genre, but adapts the big cliche of another, the teen romantic comedy, to it and crafts a hybrid that effectively revitalised both. Just take those glasses off and let that hair down, Junior, let's take a look at you... But this advancement of a physical change was more than a facile gag that it could have been, this was no gross-out comedy or vomit-fest.

Our heroine discovers a new sense of purpose in her new body, one that is not about to tolerate the laddish, boorish jokes she had previously not been bothered by, or would not let on that she was. Maybe she will teach a lesson to her male friends that they would not have taken in otherwise, simply because they have got to know her well over the past few years of school and might actually respect her? We can but hope, but the way Junior seems comfortable in her changes was a refreshing change from what could have been a series of agonising transformations we have seen elsewhere. OK, it's not all plain sailing for her, but we get the impression she is better equipped than some to weather it all. It was Marillier's debut too, and she showed the same promise, so it's nice that Ducourneau stuck by her for future projects. Music by Mathieu Gauriat.

[Click here to watch on MUBI.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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