Connect with us
Little Girl

Film

Little Girl is a Gorgeous Work of Cinematic Empathy

Little Girl tells the remarkable story of an eight-year-old trans girl’s fight for acceptance. Bring tissues!

For eight-year-old Sasha, life as a girl is simple. It’s the world around her that’s hard. Born in a boy’s body while understanding from two years old that she’s a girl, she grows up in a world where transgenderism is still misunderstood and deeply stigmatized. Filmed over the course of several months, Little Girl documents her family’s struggle to provide her the best possible upbringing in a world where the system is stacked against her. 

French director Sébastien Lifshitz doesn’t ask the little Sasha to do much. She simply goes about her normal life while the camera follows her. She is, like a lot of eight-year-olds, quite simple. It is her mother, who does the lion’s share of talking and hard work in the film, who is far complex. At first, she blames herself, wondering if her desire to have a girl at birth led to Sasha being transgender. Then she admits she was perplexed and scared by her daughter’s decision. But she loves her daughter deeply and only wants the best for her.  This includes convincing her daughter’s school to accept her as a girl, a decision weighed down by the whims of an obtuse principle we never see. 

This principle, for example, insists on medical documents pronouncing Sasha’s dysphoria before she is allowed to go to school as a girl. Yet, this means that Sasha is often verbally attacked at school, making her feel out of place. Here Little Girl demonstrates the way out-of-date systems can filter down all from the top to the playground, showing a country desperately in need of structural change. 

Sébastien Lifshitz's movie Little Girl

Thankfully, any of this abuse Sasha from her classmates happens entirely off-screen, its omission making it feel more pronounced against the happy images of her playing with her family. By celebrating the beauty of living authentically, it achieves what the exploitative Belgian film Girl — with a cisgender actor in the lead and its images of genital mutilation — simply couldn’t do. 

While hardship has and will factor into Sasha’s life, the struggle means nothing without showing how much there is to live for.  We see Sasha ‘bloom’ — as her mother says — from shyness into fearlessness as, gently encouraged by the supportive family around her, she grows into her body and her own femininity. It is simply remarkable — and more than a little tear-jerking — to watch. 

Lifshitz has a way of making his documentaries gently flow like fiction features, with a clearly pronounced beginning, middle, and end. Here, like in Adolescents, there a couple of artificial scenes that seem forced to help reinforce this plot-line, but they are minor details compared to the overall emotional effect of the film.

By portraying the trans experience through the eyes of a child, Lifshitz gently presents the idea that most of the contemporary trans “debate” — which overcomplicates human rights in jargon — misses the point entirely.  Acceptance and equal rights are about ensuring a safe environment and a happy life. This has rarely been better pronounced than in this gorgeous, heartrending film. 

  • Redmond Bacon
Written By

As far back as he can remember, Redmond Bacon always wanted to be a film critic. To him, being a film critic was better than being President of the United States

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pop Culture From All Angles

Sordid Cinema Podcast

Trending

150 Greatest Horror Movies of the 20th Century 150 Greatest Horror Movies of the 20th Century

150 Greatest Horror Movies

Film

TIFF 2021: Where is Anne Frank is a Lovely, Creative Re-Imagining

Film

I Purple You: An In-Depth Look at the BTS ARMY and Their Stories- Part One

Blog

Barbara Stanwyck Barbara Stanwyck

The Career of Barbara Stanwyck: The Dame from Brooklyn

Culture

The Cultural Significance of BTS’s Appointment as “Special Presidential Envoys for Future Generations and Culture”

Blog

Midnight Mass Midnight Mass

Midnight Mass Is A Grand, Grotesque Horror Masterpiece

TV

BTS at the United Nations 2021: A Historical Moment Watched by Over A Million

Blog

Coldplay x BTS My Universe Music Video Review: A Surprising Sci-Fi Spectacular

Blog

Seinfeld Season 05 Inside Looks 'The Marine Biologist' Seinfeld Season 05 Inside Looks 'The Marine Biologist'

Seinfeld’s Greatest Scene: “The Marine Biologist” Monologue

TV

Coldplay X BTS’s “My Universe” Review: A Collaboration that Brings Together the Best of Both Musical Worlds

Blog

Hulu only murders in the building poster Hulu only murders in the building poster

Why You Should Be Watching Only Murders in the Building

TV

Seinfeld Fake Movies Seinfeld Fake Movies

Ranking the Seinfeld Fake Movies

TV

Connect