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Girl
Lukas Dhont Belgien, 2018
If you can tune out even a little of the background noise, you’ll find an immersive, empathetic film that speaks the language of tolerance without getting preachy.
March 15, 2019
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What’s interesting in the story—Lara’s experiences as a trans ballerina—is treated as background noise, or at least secondary to the obsession with what her body looks like. There’s something voyeuristic about a camera zooming in repeatedly on a teenager’s groin.
March 15, 2019
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It employs cheap moments of trauma and body horror that evince its director and co-writer’s narrow vision of his lead character and, alongside that, extremely narrow view of transness. This film _should_ fade into obscurity due to its hollow message and the abhorrent irresponsibility of its filmmaking, but it is also, unfortunately, now readily available on Netflix.
March 15, 2019
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The film treats dance as a limit case for proving what a trans body can and cannot be—and in that regard, Girl, co-written and directed by Lukas Dhont, is a curiously unjust, myopic, even dangerous movie.
March 15, 2019
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Girl, a debut for both its director Lukas Dhont and its star Victor Polster, aligns the euphoria and frustration of dancing with the peaks and troughs of adolescence – and its sheer bruising difficulty with the issues that beset 15-year-old Lara (Polster) as a result of being transgender.
March 14, 2019
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Unfortunately, despite strenuous pretenses of compassion, Girl’s escalating obsessions reprise long histories of cruel, transphobic storytelling.
January 02, 2019
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As is consistent with the dance film, also, so much is said through gesture and other kinds of non-verbal expressivity in Girl. At the same time, Dhont’s open ending refuses to give us moralising answers as to Lara’s decisions, leaving it up to the viewer to decide.
December 20, 2018
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Even leaving fraught issues of what Dhont has termed “genderless casting” aside (Polster identifies as cisgender), Girl eventually raises suspicion for its clumsy escalation of glibly “harrowing” detail.
August 31, 2018
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Centered on a remarkable star turn by Victor Polster, Girl complicates the coming-of-age template in admirable, sometimes debatable ways, surrounding its ballerina protagonist with a host of extraordinarily supportive characters, the better to focus on her inner conflict—which is subtly articulated until a conclusion that smacks of both contrivance and sensationalism.
May 29, 2018
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Ballet is the perfect analogy for her struggle for control of her body and focus of her being, and Dhont riskily shows her rehearse intensely again and again in an expression at once of her perspicacious passion for self-assertion and also the extreme effort it takes to maintain, let alone achieve this state of being.
May 17, 2018
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Lukas Dhont’s astonishing debut feature is a quietly powerful and nuanced trans rite-of-passage story about a girl born in a boy’s body. . . . This is an elegant and poised piece of transgender cinema with a breakout performance from Victor Polster.
May 15, 2018
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There are imperfections, naturally; I wish, for example, that Girl were more inquisitive about the economic reality surrounding Lara’s nomadic home life. . . . That said, Dhont’s sensibility (and sensitivity) is admirably mature and refreshing, and I’m curious enough about his voice to look forward to where he goes from here.
May 15, 2018
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