Inspired by the real life story of dancer Nora Monsecour. Lucas Dhont brings us a beautiful coming of age debut feature with ‘Girl’. Exploring the emotional and physical complexity of transitioning gender for young people.
Lara (Victor Polster) lives with her father and little brother in a small apartment in Antwerp. While also enrolled at the Royal Ballet School, where she embraces her passion for dance, despite the physical pain of continued improvement. However, Lara is also in the beginning stages of gender transition, with the stress, joy and fear of hormone therapy. And while her father is supportive, he remains concerned at Lara’s psychological wellbeing as her body changes. While also fighting his own battle in the transition of his son to daughter.
Providing us with a transgender coming of age story Lucas Dhonts debut is not without its controversy. Especially in casting a young cis male actor in the main role. However, these debates only harm the ability of the film to further promotes understanding and inclusion. With ‘Girl’ offering an important step forward in reflecting young transgender lives on screen.
Victor Polster‘s gives a performance of exceptional emotional connection and nuance. Demonstrating the complexity of the emotions and feelings associated with the transitioning journey. While equally embracing the urgency and freedom of leading a new life in a body you own. Meanwhile, the backdrop of gruelling and beautiful ballet. Only further highlights the emotional turmoil of Lara. As she contorts her body despite the pain of practice.
Family life for Lara is full of love, support and warmth, never playing to dated stereotypes. But at the same time demonstrating the isolation of teenage emotions, even in families of great support. With Lara’s dad (Arieh Worthalter) full of care and love for his daughter. While equally powerless to speed up her transition and ensure her happiness.
Sexual awakening, peer groups and gender identity are handled with care. While also allowing the audience to develop their understanding of the challenges faced by transgender young people. Ultimately delivering a transgender coming of age story full of emotion, heart and tenderness. Breaking down walls rather than building them, while taking an important step forward in transgender stories on screen.
Director: Lukas Dhont