I want to preface this review with a background of who I am as this movie has been the source of controversy to so many. I am a cis male so it would be impossible for me to speak on the authenticity of the main character in this film. I can only speak to how this movie affected me with who I am as a person. I also will say that as far as the controversies go with this film I am on the side of defending them for the most part, though again I see these things from my perspectives and for the most part if you see them from a different angle I fully respect and can appreciate your perspective. Movies are a subjective experience and everyone is allowed to have their own opinion and side especially when it comes to such emotionally powerful and decisive.
With that being said I would be lying if I said I didn't think this movie was really solid. From my perspective, there are so many well-done elements to this film and one has to be the acting. Across the board, every actor is just fantastic in this movie. Victor Polster gives a wonderfully crafted and layered performance as our main character Lara. The amount of pain and constant suffering he is able to showcase in his performance is really impressive especially considering this was his debut role. Arieh Worthalter is also a major standout as Laura's father, again the depth that he is able to give his character is something that is rarely seen done so well. He wants to support his daughter yet she won't give him the information or understanding to do that. Both of these actors had incredible chemistry and was a leading factor in how impactful this film was in my opinion.
That is another huge accomplishment I think this film has, it is so hard to get through which is its goal. I see plenty of people saying that this film is too dark and too negative yet I think that is exactly what this film is trying to do. After watching this film it's clearly not supposed to be an inspirational film for trans youth or anything close to that. It tries to build empathy from those not in the trans community by showing the serious struggle and pain that they go through. As I mentioned before I can't speak on the authenticity of the experience this young woman goes through but it definitely was hard to get through and really took me back in some scenes. It's emotionally powerful and even painful at times which again is exactly what it seems like it is going for. Lukas Dhont does a great job at creating scenes that hit hard and I must applaud him for creating a film that can resonate and hit me so hard despite not being part of the community being affected in the plot itself. He also impressed me with the cinematography and directing in this film, especially with the power behind the dancing scenes. How he pushed into these physical moments felt unique and really well done.
Overall I still understand and can respect the controversial conversations surrounding this film, but I think some people are missing the purpose of this movie. I think it accomplishes exactly what it tries to do and should be essential watching especially for those not in the trans community. Speaking solely from my experience watching this movie I think it is extremely well crafted and is one of my favorite foreign films of 2018.