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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
It would be nearly impossible to understand agony of being born into wrong gender body without going through that ordeal. Depressed teens can sometimes believe things will never get better, might lack patience to wait for improvements. Even someone with all support possible can still feel depressed.
Positive Role Models
Lara is a brave young teenager transitioning from male body she was born with to female body she knows suits her actual gender. She endures ridicule and stares, feels painfully uncomfortable in male body. She finds strength to proceed with potentially dangerous procedure. Her father is supportive, encouraging as she undergoes transition. A single father raising two children supports his eldest lovingly, unconditionally.
Violence & Scariness
Classmates bully Lara. While Lara is right there, an insensitive teacher asks students if they mind if Lara uses the girls' bathroom. A dancer works so hard her feet bleed. She faints after a workout. In painful scene, Lara's "friends" pressure her into letting them see her penis.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Lara tapes her male genitals so they don't show under clothes. She must painfully remove tape every time she has to urinate. A male bare chest, penis are seen for seconds in mirror view. These views have little to do with sex and mostly suggest sense that the person is dissatisfied with the reflection. A person embarrassed about her body kisses a neighbor, won't let him touch her, gives him oral sex, runs away.
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"S--t," "d--k," "vagina," "penis," "glans," "clitoris," "breasts," "damn," and "bitch."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A transitioning male-to-female teenage patient takes puberty-suppressing drugs and later female hormones. A father asks his teen if she's had alcohol or smoked "dope."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Girl is a 2018 Belgian film (with English subtitles) that follows Lara, a 15-year-old born as a boy and transitioning into a girl. She's been taking puberty-suppressing hormones with the goal of beginning a female hormone regimen and undergoing a surgical procedure to make her body conform to her self-image. Doctor visits and frank discussions with a supportive father and therapist candidly reveal the graphic details of what such a transformation entails, both physically and emotionally. This can be an uplifting document for those considering the same change, but be aware that bullying and depression result in a violent act (not shown). This also addresses universal body image issues that plague many teens not undergoing Lara's journey. A scene depicts oral sex, but no genitals are seen. Classmates at Lara's ballet school sometimes embrace and sometimes taunt her. Lara tapes her male genitals so they don't show under her clothes. A teen stands naked before a mirror, showing a penis. Language includes "s--t," "d--k," "vagina," "penis," "glans," "clitoris," "damn," and "bitch." To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Based on the true story of a ballerina named Nora Monsecour, the film is a riveting tribute to the courage of a young person undergoing the slow and difficult process of transition. Victor Polster, a cisgender male (born male and identifying as male), was cast as Lara for his resemblance to the dancer and for his acting and dance ability. Audiences should know that some in the transgender community have complained that Girl didn't cast a trans actor for the role, and that with its emphasis on body image, it's exploitive rather than representative.
Politics aside, Polster is moving and believable enough to make this feel at times like a documentary in which the audience has been invited to watch the transition process step-by-step. This may be jarring and discomforting for some but heartening and encouraging for those in the same position who are experiencing social backlash and have less supportive and encouraging parents. The movie takes pains to explore the ways in which simply being a dancer, surrounded by mirrors and unyielding body ideals, can set a youth on a path of body image pathology. Sensitive performances are given by all. The film was nominated for a Best Foreign Film Golden Globe and won the Camera d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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