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Director: Lukas Dhont
Writers: Lukas Dhont and Angelo Tijssens
Stars: Victor Polster (Lara), Arieh Worthalter (Mathias), and Oliver Bodart (Milo)
SHOW RATING OVERVIEW
Overall: ★★★★★ (4.25)
Lara, a 15-year-old transgender girl who aspires to be a professional ballerina, moves with her supportive father, Mathias, and younger brother to attend a prestigious Dutch-speaking dance academy. Undergoing hormone replacement therapy in preparation for sex reassignment surgery, she is frustrated by the slow progress of the treatment. At school, she tucks her penis with tape during ballet practices and experiences transphobic harassment from her classmates. Since the taping has caused an infection, she is denied the surgery for now, so she mutilates herself with a pair of scissors. The film ends with a shot of Lara walking down a street in the sun.
MY 2 CENTS:
• Golden Globes Awards – Nominated for Best Foreign Language Film
It’s hard being a teenager. It’s hard being a teenage girl going through hormonal changes, self-doubt, body issues, and so much more. Throw into the mix the fact that Lara, played by Victor Polster, is a 15-year-old girl who was born in the body of a boy that she doesn’t relate to.
I don’t know, nor would I ever presume to understand, what that might feel like. But I can say this, I know it couldn’t be easy.
Although Girl is not a documentary, or true story, it was inspired by Nora Monsecour, a trans female dancer from Belgium. I’m not sure how much of the story was true to Nora’s life or how much was purely fiction, but it was beautifully told.
I’ve read a number of reviews and articles that have criticized the film for its depiction of self-harm and gender-dysphoria, which I recently learned is the distress a person experiences when the gender they are assigned at birth does not match the person’s gender identity causing them to be transgender. Honestly, I can’t criticize a film for something I don’t truly understand. All I know is that the struggle Lara was going through in the film, felt honest, raw, and real.
Girl was actor Victor Polster’s debut role and he did a beautiful job. I won’t lie, I had to look up the film’s IMDB page to find out if Lara was played by a male or female actor. I wasn’t sure. I didn’t know if the director had used a body double for the nude scenes or if the actress was actually an actor. I will say this, I am a bit shocked that the actor was only fourteen at the time of the filming and there were scenes of him with full frontal nudity (with his parent’s permission). That was off-putting to say the least.
Arieh Worthalter, who played Mathias – Lara’s father, was amazing. He was so natural on-screen. He wore his emotions on his sleeve… on his face… in his eyes. Half the time, I just wanted to hug him and tell him everything was going to be alright. You could see that he, as much as his daughter, was struggling just to keep himself together. The love he felt for both of his children was so pure and you could tell he would do anything for them. Enough so that he uprooted his family so that Lara, the oldest of the two children, could attend an elite dance school and be treated by doctors who could really help her. He supported her 100% through the process of preparing for sex reassignment surgery and was there for her every step of the way even though he was worried sick about her.
It was a beautiful story of family, love, pain, growing up, and discovering yourself even when you have to look through the mud to find out who you really are.