Girl Rising (PG-13)

Documentary 101 min. March 7, 2013
By Andrew Schenker
While well-worn charges of aestheticizing poverty could easily be leveled against Girl Rising, its eye-popping colors, stark black-and-white, and inventive animation that by turns help illustrate the stories of the unfortunate children profiled feel like a fit expression of hope against a backdrop of misery. The film is divided into nine episodes, each employing a different visual strategy to recreate the true stories of an international assortment of real-life girls, each of whom has been paired with a famous writer to help narrate her story. (The words are in turn read by a celebrity ringer.) Among the narratives: a young Haitian girl who insists on attending a post-earthquake startup school despite not being able to afford the entrance fee, and an Egyptian girl who stabs a rapist. Director Richard Robbins delights in dotting his screen with bursts of color, from a shimmering orange dress to the deep purple of a pen cap, while the stories, shaped by anecdotal brevity, are often charmingly modest. Only an insistence on blandly inspirational rhetoric and a series of didactic interludes threaten to reduce the film to a PSA about the plight of young women in developing countries.
Richard Robbins Anne Hathaway, Cate Blanchett, Selena Gomez, Liam Neeson, Priyanka Chopra, Chloë Moretz, Freida Pinto, Salma Hayek, Meryl Streep, Alicia Keys Gathr Films

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