By Mónica Delgado
The greatest achievement in Lukas Dhont’s Girl is the gaze he chooses for the portrayal of a Trans adolescent who is dissatisfied with her body in a time of corporeal and hormonal changes. The urgency of a 16-years old Lara (an impeccable Victor Polster), giving it all for ballet and making her body adapt to the elasticity and demand of the work routines, are shot by the filmmaker in the dance lessons, her visits to a doctor and the conversations with and exemplary single father. The description of the environment which brings the perfect conditions for identity affirmation and sexuality in a first world country give Girl the opportunity to be a portrayal free of sensationalism and prejudices.
Winer of best actor and best feature film in Un Certain Regard, Girl starts with some events in Lara’s quotidian life. She has to take care of her little brother and act as a mother with some home tasks. Little by little we’ll find out that her greatest dissatisfaction lies in the slow hormonal treatment that should make her look more like an adolescent, since abandoning her male characteristics seems to be a calvary which translates into the act of placing patches to hide her male aspect in ballet classes.
Dhont isn’t set in executing his character in this strong desire of letting her male side go, since she dreams about having a sex change operation, but accompanies her with warmth, from the family scenes of her relationship with the ballet teacher or her classmates. In contrast to Dhont’s treatment of his film, the malaise of Lara appears, manifested as a resistance against all this climate of support, because the discomfort with his male physiognomy places her in a great state of depression.
Girl is an accomplished portrait in its intimacy, which translates the spirit of its character very well in some closed shots of the dance lessons (the best thing about the film, since a true climate of abstraction is achieved in some moments). A character with a psychological profundity of gestures, gazes, and loneliness.
Un Certain Regard: best actor, best feature
Directing: Lukas Dhont
Script: Lukas Dhont, Angelo Tijssens
Cinematography: Frank van den Eeden
Music: Valentin Hadjadj
Cast: Victor Polster, Valentijn Dhaenens, Nele Hardiman, Arieh Worthalter
Production Company: Menuet bvba / Frakas Productions / Topkapi Films
Belgium, 2018, 100 minutes