Girl review Lukas Dhont


11 Oct
Film & TV

Review: ‘Girl’ Keeps You On Your Toes, Sweeps You Off Your Feet

Girl resonates. Girl lingers. Silence.

Girl is hopeful and positive, in a strange way. Girl is beautiful. Silence.

Girl is enchanting, I think that adjective crossed my mind five times while watching. Girl is hypnotizing. Silence.

Girl is the kind of movie you want to talk about, without actually having the words to do so. Girl is intense. I have never seen anything like it.

Minutes after having seen Girl for the first time, I recorded a voice message on my phone. To capture what I felt, so that I would be able to listen to it later and relive that moment of pure overwhelmedness. The excerpt above is (part of) the literal transcription of that voice message, the silences true to live and meaningful. Girl made quite the impact.

I wouldn’t normally write a review from a first person singular point of view, but my experience watching Girl has been too personal for anything else.

Girl review Lukas Dhont

Cannes first, Oscars next?

For anyone who has been living under a rock the past year: Girl is the debut of Belgian filmmaker Lukas Dhont. The movie about a young transgender girl studying to become a ballerina while struggling with her identity had its world premiere during the Film Festival in Cannes this year, and it took the festival by storm. Girl got awarded the Camera d’Or for best debut, the Queer Palm, and lead actor Victor Polster won the Un Certain Regard Jury Prize for Best Actor. Deservedly, Girl will be the Belgian submission for the Oscars next year.

Shortly after their French triumph, it was announced that Girl would be scheduled to open the Film Festival in Ghent, which is currently ongoing.

Girl review Lukas Dhont

Emotional sucker punch

It’s 10 am on a Monday when I take a seat to see Girl, unaware of the emotional sucker punch that will hit me in less than two hours.

From the opening scene to the closing credits I am spellbound. Victor Polster is spectacular as Lara, a sixteen-year-old girl born in a body that doesn’t feel like hers. I have never seen the internal struggle of what it feels like to be transgender brought to life better. Girl sheds a light on a trans experience like no movie has ever done: rather than focusing on how the trans person relates to the people around her, it shows how Lara relates to herself, how she feels and how she moves through her world.

Polster’s performance is intimate and personal, it’s truthful, almost hypnotizing. Arieh Worthalter deserves a special mention for his honest and heartfelt portrayal of Lara’s father, who witnesses firsthand that loving your child unconditionally isn’t always enough to make your child love itself.

Girl review Lukas Dhont

Girl is not a movie of big emotions and in that, it is. Girl doesn’t scream, it is not a tearjerker, its breaking point is not loud nor obnoxious. Instead, emotions are raw, in their purest form, true to life. Girl is a story of strength, of perseverance and growth, it breaks your heart only to mend it immediately after. The movie moves, not only emotionally but visually, with ballet scenes that are equal parts electrifying and mesmerizing.

A masterpiece worth the hype

If you hadn’t noticed: Girl is a masterpiece. I could write on and on about every little detail that had me speechless, but honestly all you have to take from this review is: go see the movie. It is worth your time, your money, your attention.

Girl review Lukas Dhont

Girl will be in Belgian theatres from October 17th onwards, get tickets and judge for yourself. The movie will sweep you off your feet and then give you a hand to get up again because the dance isn’t over. Préparation, attitude, attaque.

Photo credits: Girl

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