18th November 2020

Girl Review: Every Boy, Girl, Man , Woman & Transgender Should See This Film

Girl(French, Belgian. Available on Netflix)

Starring  Victor Polster as Lara Verhaeghen,Arieh Worthalter as Mathias Verhaeghen

Directed  by  Lukas Dhont

**** ½ 

Watching  first-time  actor Victor Polster  nailing   the role of a young transgender in the painful transition   from boy to girl, I would have never guessed  that Polster is not a trans-gender  himself. Yes, he is THAT good! And then  some more. Some spoiltsport  critics have  objected to a non-trans  playing one. By that logic  only serial killers, rapists  and anarchists  should play these roles.

It’s  all about  acting, in case  some  finicky critics have forgotten.And  Polster as  Lara  is a revelation. The first-time  director  Lukas Dhonst leaves  nothing to the imagination. The film has graphic scenes of genital exposure and  self-violence,  so harsh and brutal they could disturb you for a  lifetime.

Also Read:  Mangrove Powerful Portrayal Of Racial Discrimination

Life is  not easy for a  man moving into the other gender.As I  saw the palpable pain  of  the  transitional protagonist I  was  reminded my dear friend Rituparno  Ghosh who went through a similar far more painful  man-to-woman surgical  process. It finally took his life. Lara survives. She  has  an astonishing support  system which Rituparno  never had.

One  of the many delights of  watching this  masterpiece about gender migration is to see  the transitional  transgender’s relationship with her father Mathias(played by an excellent Belgian  actor   Arieh Worthalter). The father’s  patience and  compassion see  Lara through to the  other side.

 There is a scene of father-and-daughter snuggled up in bed with the father  exhorting  Lara  by reminding her of what an  example she  is to  the trans-gender community.

Also Read:  Swara Bhaskar On Love Jihad & The Growing Intolerance

“But I  don’t  want to be an example. I just want to  be a  girl,” Lara replies.

Sequences  such as the above are  overwhelmingly comforting  and reassuring  in  their  normalized  tone  in an absolutely abnormal situation. Then  there is  the  cinematography  This is  film comes from a place of  absolute  honesty and  concern. It is  savagely  unsparing in  showing us the details  of  Lara’s emotional and  physical pain, her  disconnect with the  world of the normal around her and her passion for ballet which  drives Lara  into inhuman levels  of arduous  practice  and self-damage.

Girl is  a marvel of creation, Unlike the  super-heroes of  Marvel, Lara is a  hero  with no  buildings and  nations  to  protect. This  masterpiece  doesn’t strut its excellence to  win awards. There is  an urgent story waiting to be told  here.  And it is told without fears or frills. As  for macho actors running around in sarees pretending to be  a transgender, do watch Girl. Victor Polster will seriously remind you of  what an actor is supposed to do.

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