This semester, I’m attending a course on Irish cinema. Each week, we are expected to write a blog-like journal about the film we watched in class and/or our class discussion about the film. I’ve decided to include those entries to my blog, so it would be more agreeable to read than a Word document. This is my journal entry for 32A (week 11).
Marian Quinn’s 32A was not the only film we saw in class depicting teenagers’ life. It also was the case for Hush-a-Bye Baby and Disco Pigs. However, this one is not as dark as the previous one and is, let’s say, more “ordinary” (not necessarily in a bad way). The fact that the main characters are actually young teenagers (and not almost adults like it is the case for the two other films’ characters) adds a certain aura of innocence and childishness.
Narratively, there’s nothing quite extraordinary about the film. I enjoyed it, but it’s the typical teenager movie story. A young schoolgirl tries to find her place in the social world. She has friends who reject her at one point, but, in the end, they become friends again. There’s the cute rebel boy (but, however, their relationship is abruptly ended). The girls have problems in their family. You know, these are the typical elements someone would expect from a teen movie. What is interesting though, is the fact that this film is not only a teen movie, but it was also made for a young teen audience. Thus, it might be easier for teens to identify with the characters more than it would be the case for Hush-A-Bye Baby for example, which adopts much more mature themes and might be understood better by an older audience.
It’s interesting how, in her text on the female Bildungsroman (a coming of age story genre), Ellen McWilliams informs us that this literary genre was first not seen well by feminists for “its often unapologetic investment in masculine, bourgeois ideologies.” (1) However, the female Bildungsroman gives a new breath of freshness to the genre as it is explained by McWilliams and became a new form of expression for women. (2) Well, 32A proves it right as the story is seen from a girl’s point of view and, interestingly, it’s the ladies in this film that are the most well developed. There’s nothing very concluding about, let’s say, Jean’s father or her “boyfriend”. However, that’s in a way not so good as it somehow neglects the relationship between the male and female characters in the film or, more precisely, their development.
Aesthetically, the film has some beautiful images that add some visual poetry to it and make it agreeable to watch. The day scenes are very luminous, but not aggressive for our eyes, while the night scenes feature beautiful sky images.
32A is not a revolutionary nor an impressive film, but I enjoyed it and this type of films is sometimes good to see too, to prove us that life, even in movies, can be just normal!
On an aside note, I give this film many bonus points for featuring songs by my musical idols Blondie (Picture This) and David Bowie (Boy Keep Swinging)! These were, for me, the amazing parts of the film.
(1) McWilliams, Ellen. “The Coming of Age of the Female Bildungsroman.” Margaret Atwood and the Female Bildungsroman. Farnham: Ashgate, 2009. 0.1-12
“A still from Marian Quinn’s Film 32A.” Archives of Irish America, Sep. 30, 2011, https://www.nyu.edu/library/bobst/research/aia/collections/ihoral/quinnm/quinnm.php.
“32A.” Institut Canadien du Film, Nov. 26, 2009, http://www.cfi-icf.ca/index.php?option=com_cfi&task=showscreening&id=248.