OIFF International Competition program has started with the film “Girl” by Lukas Dhont (Belgium).
There is a semi-religious metaphor that compares body with the prison. For the main character of the “Girl” that is the feature-length debut of Belgian Lukas Dhont, this comparison is an everyday reality.
Her name is Lara, she is 15 and she studies at the ballet school mastering her skills in everyday exhausting rehearsals. Everything is just ordinary, with only one exception: In her previous life Lara’s name was Victor and she was born as a boy. Her life is an everyday challenge: hormonal therapy, preparations for gender reassignment surgery, relationships with peers, the performance of the pieces that were designed for female physique. The young actor Victor Polster is doing an incredible job. He convincingly embodies the existence of the heroine that is split and full of painful contradictions. For his part, Dhont, omitting the temptation to put a reassure on spectator’s tear ducts, cuts the whole story into a series of light, documentary-like filmed episodes: we see the chronicles of a young person’s self-assertion in difficult circumstances. We also see the overcoming of these circumstances – sometimes even in a shocking way, which, however, doesn’t look far-fetched.
Such a brilliant acting together with the coming-of-age story genre brought several awards to Dhont this year in Cannes, including the Golden Camera for the best debut; probably it won’t be without awards at OIFF as well.
The first gala premiere of the festival was movie “Hot Summer Nights” by the debutant Elijah Bynum. When on the screen there is this year’s “Oscar” nominee (for the movie “Call Me by Your Name”) Timothée Chalamet, who plays the protagonist Daniel, title of the film hints at the most beloved season of the year, and in the line “genre” it’s written – romantic criminal comedy, then you subconsciously adjust yourself to the lightness, slow flow of hot days and passionate love, deliberately ignoring the first word.
However, the drama is based on real events and it unfolds in 1991. It is the time when the USSR lived through its last days and “Terminator 2” appeared on the screens of American cinemas. Alongside this, a real drama unfolds at American peninsula Cape Cod, where the main character was sent to his aunt. Shy boy Daniel, who desperately experiences his father’s death, undergoes real transformations in several summer months. He becomes a companion of the coolest guy in the town. Falls in love with his ice-maiden sister, whom almost every boy craves. He starts to sell drugs, increasing volumes several times. Despite the criminal component, the film is still about a hot summer with hot sand and a cinema in the open air, when teenage dreams come true, when the kisses are sweet, and you don’t want to think about the future, because nothing good is visible there. About excitement and easy money, desire for having everything and all at once, the difficult relationship between those who struggle and doesn’t go with the flow, and those who believed that his life will never be full of warmth and comfort. The hurricane that covers and destroys the peninsula at the end of the film is a logical continuation of the hot, by all means, summer. After all, when a bad guy loves a good girl, the best he can do for her is to disappear from her life.
Odesa residents and city guests will be able to watch this film in the evening. The film will be released on the country’s screens on July 26.
Text by Kostyantyn Levin and Svitlana Bondar