A quite lovely performance from Victor Polster is at the heart of Girl, the young actor capturing all the grace and tenderness of Lara, a 15-year-old girl who wants to be a ballerina.
I don’t want to wade into the politics of trans. I’m not qualified to comment. But Polster is superb and, for me, conveys the confusion of emotion and physicality that Lara must be going through. The film won the Camera d’Or at Cannes and the Sutherland at the LFF and got a Golden Globe nomination for its director Lukas Dhont, who’s an impressive young film maker.
I liked the confidence of his camera, its observational stare, and I liked the attitude of the adults, particularly the Dad, who’s very Belgian cool about the whole thing – so different a trope to the usual story like Billy Elliot, where the father is all grumpy and ashamed of the child’s sexuality until being won over by the end.
That’s not the arc of this story – it’s more about Lara’s battles with her own resolve and her own body, and it’s all the more interesting for it, asking questions about the nature of gender on many levels. It leads to a controversial, possibly jarring climax which you’ll have to deal with in your own way. I did avert my gaze, I have to say.