The topic of conversation – Girl (London Film Festival Review)

Rating:

Transgender men and women have been the topic of conversation for some time. Concerning rights and commenting on how they are portrayed, especially in the media. Pushing all this aside, Girl is an intermittent portrait of a girl who wants to dance and be the girl she is.

Lara is fifteen, a ballet dancer and lives with her younger brother and her father. Having been excepted into a prestigious dance school, her family move closer so she is able to attend. Lara is transgender and in the process of taking hormones in the lead up to her operation. She has to cope with her personal issues which at times are too much, despite having a very supportive family.

Throughout the entire film, we experienced everything Lara does. With the camera rarely away from her face and body, we feel everything she does. It’s refreshing to watch a story about a transgender woman who has is surrounded by a loving family and supportive doctors who worry about her wellbeing and mental state. Lara even has no problems with her classmates at school, that is until at a girls only sleepover party, she is given a separate room. She is also confronted by the girls, asking to see her genitals, claiming that she’s seen theirs in the changing room so why can’t they see hers. This invasion of privacy is a moment that we realise that no matter how much love and support you have, there will always be obstacles on the way to acceptance.

As Lara is a teenager, she had been taking medication to delay pubity and doesn’t think about anything other than ballet. When Lara starts taking the hormones she becomes desperate, taking too many pills, weakening her body and even drastic measures to ensure she gets to be the woman she wants to be. Ballet is known for its discipline and and punishment to the body,  Lara punishes herself, working to the bone to catch up, having learnt first as a boy and now as a girl. Ballet serves a symbol for change and sets her up for what she will have to cope with later on.

There is the question about the actor who portrays Lara, Victor Polster and why he was chosen to portray a transgender woman, but this seems like it will always be a questions of why, which is a shame. At first Girl is a positive outlook but soon shows its tragic undertones. Lukas Dhont gives an intimate story with what feels like a positive and realistic experience.

Dir: Lukas Dhont

Prd: Dirk Impens

Scr:Lukas Dhont, Angelo Tijssens

Cast: Victor Polster, Arieh Worthalter, Katelijne Damen, Oliver Bodart

DoP: Frank van den Eeden

Music: Valentin Hadjadj

Year:2018

Country: Belgium

Running time: 105 minutes