Film Festival Cologne 2018: Girl

By Martha Sigargök-Martin | Features & Reviews

Nov 06

Genre: Drama | Country: Belgium | 2018 | 106 min

Directed by Lukas Dhont

Starring: Victor Polster, Arieh Worthalter, Oliver Bodart

Girl has already come to the German theatres on the 18th of October. The film was showcased, among others, at the Cannes Film Festival 2018 and won the Caméra d’Or. A price for debut movies.

It was part of the Film Festival Cologne as well this year.


Lara (Victor Polster) is 15 years old and dream of being a ballerina. Born as Victor, she wants to change her body definitely. She lives with her younger brother (Olivier Bodart) and father (Arieh Worthalter) in Brussel. Her father helps as good as he can in her journey.

The film shows her mental and physical challenge while visiting the ballerina school, who demands its own commitment.

Cinematography & Editing

Director Lukas Dhont was supported by cinematographer Frank van den Eeden (Het vonnis, Full contact) and editor Alain Dessauvage (Bullhead, Racer and the Jailbird) in his project.

What strikes the cinematography of Girl is the difference of how the camera is used between the dance scenes at school and the dialogue scenes between the main character and the other protagonists – her father, her psychologist and her doctors.

During the dancing scenes, the camera isn’t steady. Alain Dessauvage shortened the shots and even repeated part of them to emphasize the dynamic of those scenes.

On the contrary, scenes where Lara is alone with her thoughts – one scene is particularly difficult to endure at the end – are steady.


Lukas Dhont is a gifted director. Considering his young age (27 years old), there is a lot to expect from him. Even if his style is different, the parallel to Xavier Dolan is indisputable.

But the film owes its superbness a lot to its main performer, Victor Polster.

The actor won an award for best actor in the category Un Certain Regard in Cannes this year for good reasons.

Despite his young age, Victor Polster, stood in front of the camera as if he had done it his whole life.


Girl is objectively the story of a transgender girl, but never once the word is pronounced during the film. Director Lukas Dhont wanted to show the normal life of a normal teenager.

However, Lara’s life isn’t that normal. It consists of physical and mental pain. Whether through her ballerina training or her transformation, in order to achieve two goals that satisfy her ideals.

Her inner torments lead her to take radical measures towards the end of the film. One of the most poignant scenes in the film.

Girl is an intense ode to self-acceptance. It’s emotionally dense, delicate and a must watch.

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About the Author

Hey! I'm Martha, and I help creative people understanding and solving mental and creative blocks through blog posts about film, series, and creativity, as well as through a creative coaching website (marthasm.com) just dedicated to this topic.