New black women’s movement, from girlhood to womanhood in “Honeytrap” & “Girlhood?”
Coming of Age has commonly been reserved for young white men, from literary characters such as Huck and David (Huckleberry Finn and David Copperfield) to Mason in Boyhood and James Dean’s Jim Stark in the explosive Rebel Without A Cause, the young white man has nearly monopolized the genre. However, Coming and Age is not exclusively white and male, John Hughes and Richard Linklater, both white men themselves but men who have explored the maturation of young women in The Breakfast Club and Dazed and Confused, and John Singleton canonized the movement from ‘black boy– to manhood’ with his intelligent and humanizing debut, Boyz n the Hood.
Now, more and more, the black women’s movement from black girlhood to black womanhood – her experiences and her inner world – her Coming of Age is being explored; First in the French ‘Girlz n the hood’ drama Girlhood and also in the South London coming of age ‘hood’ drama, Honeytrap.
Written and directed by Top Girl director, Rebecca Johnson (Top Girl also explored themes of gang culture and violence with maturation) at the heart of Honeytrap lies fifteen-year-old, Layla (played by Skins actress, Jessica Sula) who has moved from Trinidad to South London.
As Layla familiarizes herself with her new, alien surroundings – the ‘dog-eat-dog’ world of Brixton – she encounters the usual peer pressures of ‘girlhood’ – she falls in with a group of girls and in love with gang leader Troy (Lucien Laviscount). When Layla loses favor with Troy, she does anything to win back his affection, including offering to set up the murder of the boy in love with her.
Honeytrap has all the familiar movements of other ‘hood’ or ‘gang culture’ movies – a young and naïve protagonist, a group of young and engaging men on the wrong side of the track, and so on. Yet, Johnson differentiates her movie and refreshes the genre by making the young and naïve protagonist, a young woman.
Honeytrap is out in cinemas now.
– Hannah Campbell