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Girl movie with Victor Polster & Arieh Worthalter – critic

Girl movie

In this defining transition of adolescence, Lara faces two major challenges: the forced assertion of her femininity, since she was born in a boy’s body, and integration into a dance school. A struggle in two stages: with his future body which is slow in coming, and in the urgency of the present which imposes an iron discipline. This is our critic of Girl movie.

Girl movie critic

These two temporalities condition the whole narration of Girl movie. In an almost naturalistic approach (we think, at times, of this quest for authenticity dear to the Dardenne brothers), the tireless repetition of movements during dance lessons makes the effort and suffering generated by the quest for choreographic grace palpable. The camera, riveted on the young girl, almost ignores the others, showing more of the physiological behind the scenes (the tension, the muscles, the unnatural performance of the points, the shortness of breath) than the harmony of the gestures or the community. (We will regret a little the abuse of hand-held camera footage in the streets, which does not add much except this documentary deposit that is a little too underlined on these sequences.) Girl is an immersion in an almost unique point of view, which, through anguish and feverishness, isolates itself and falls back on themes which are nevertheless crucially those of the relationship with others: through physical appearance and the stage.

It is on this nerve knot that the gist of Victor Polster’s very impressive performance is played out, which simultaneously affirms a solar femininity and the intense but discreet violence with which she is conquered.Because at the other end of the time spectrum is the question of the modification of this same body: the hormonal treatment, the surgery to come, and the terrible impatience that all this cautious slowness of the medical profession makes the body undergo in Lara’s boil. This is the opportunity to see her as a family, during very fair and beautiful scenes with her father and brother – and to note the never-explained absence of a mother who, from time to time, gives Lara a role that she seems to enjoy.

The bias is obvious: not to make the transgender issue a disruptive element in the family, a secret to keep or a shattering revelation. The fact is established, and it is accepted, even in music school where, with two important (but significant) exceptions, the question is not really debated.

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The tension is therefore not so much to be found in the gaze of others – even if, we recall, it obviously increases the difficulties – as in that which the young girl carries on herself, by a skilful play of mirror (in her bedroom, in the dance hall, in the elevator) or short focal lengths alternating the focus in the dialogues to often reveal the ineffectiveness of this teenager who is a little too stubborn in her obsessions and dreaming of herself too soon as a woman. The body, too inert in the feminine development, becomes the ground for a shift of aggressiveness in the field of dance, where performance burns through the stages and takes up all challenges, even to the point of unreason. The final climax, in this sense, was not essential in the evolution of the narrative, and tries to over-explain a violence that was already sufficiently and more subtly evoked from the start.

This intense and often silent journey, punctuated by always benevolent adult words, therefore manages to build an intense, moving but, above all, authentic and human quest, enamelled with its excesses and its universal claims: the affirmation of individuality, which cannot be done without harmony with one’s body.


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