When we are born, it’s either as a girl or a boy. Growing up, we create our own identity. Partly influenced by our peers and environment, but most importantly by ourselves. How we feel, what we think and what we want to do with our lives. Sometimes that can result in feeling trapped in your own body. While for the outsiders it might seem as though it’s just a phase that passes, deep down we all know it’s something that won’t. That’s exactly what the newest film by Belgian director Lukas Dhondt (L’Infini, Headlong) is about. The immensely gripping story resulted in an amazing movie with incredibly moving acting performances.
Lara (Victor Polster) is fifteen, living in Brussels with her father (Arieh Worthalter) and younger brother (Oliver Bodart) and is dreaming of a career as a ballet dancer. She’s determined to give everything she got and getting into one of the best dancing schools in Belgium would be a massive step forward for her. In her blue dancing outfit, she seems just like any other girl. Trying to master the plie, relevé and sauté while working extremely hard but at the same time also enjoying life by hanging out with friends. However, when you take a closer look, you see that she has to carry an incredibly tough secret with her. She was born as Victor. While everyone seems to accept her as a young girl and seeing her like that as well, she doesn’t see it yet which makes her incredibly confused, agitated and unhappy. The two years she has to wait before allowed surgery seems like an incredibly long and excruciating journey. One that might be too unbearable…
After receiving its world premiere at the Film Festival of Cannes, the film got awards from all over the world. Most of them were either for the marvellous producer Dhondt such as the Golden Camera (Film Festival of Cannes) and Un Certain Regard Award (Film Festival of Cannes). Awards went to the enormously captivating lead actor, Polster, such as the Golden Duke (Odessa International Film Festival) and the Un Certain Regard – Best Actor (Film Festival of Cannes). The film itself got four awards for Best Film. It’s no surprise at all that the UK and the BFI Film Festival London selected this amazing film, Girl.
One of the reasons why this film should be on everyone’s “to watch” list is the fascinating story. Despite living in the 21st Century, there are still people out there who’re sadly struggling with this transition, whether it’s a woman in a man’s body or the other way around. The film might have a lot of humour and funny moments in it but that doesn’t take away the seriousness of the topic. Not knowing whether you will be able to become who you really are with the prejudices of the society as well as the physical impossibilities that might come with this.
Another element why this film deserves every award it can get is the incredibly captivating acting performances for the whole of the cast. For Polster is Girl his first film as an actor and he will be an actor you have to keep a very close eye on in the near future. He’s immensely intriguing, fascinating and enchanting just as his character, Lara, and isn’t afraid to portray every emotion possible. His performance will touch you no matter what, so we advise you to bring tissues because you’re going to need them. Not only because of Polster but also because of Arieh Worthalter (Promise at Dawn, Razzia) who’s playing Lara’s father. A father who clearly supports the decision of his daughter but who also has to make sure that the road she takes is the safest one without damaging their family bond. As the younger brother of Lara, we see Oliver Bodart of whom Girl is his film debut. He’s portrayed in a very beautiful and wonderful way as Milo, who wants the best for his big sister. If a small boy like Milo can support and understand someone that’s going through this rough transition, then why can’t we?
Girl has been selected as the Belgian contender for next years’ Oscar in the Best Foreign Language film. This movie is the best chance Belgium has so far to get one of those shiny statues. If it was up to us, the film could clearly also be nominated in the category for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role. Polster is carrying this movie with incredible grace and you have to be a cold-hearted person not to be able to be moved by his thrilling acting performances. The story itself is one that should definitely be told as there are a lot of people who are going through and who deserves every support they can get. The gripping performances and fascinating story mixed with a splendid cinematography make this film an Oscar-worthy movie.
Liselotte Vanophem, Film and Celebrity Reporter – Just Celebrity Magazine