Young Lara is asleep as Girl, Belgium's official submission for this year's Academy Award for best foreign-language film, begins. Her mane of straight blonde hair falls across her cheek as her five-year-old brother Milo (Oliver Bodart) climbs onto her bed, whispering her name.
It's clearly a ritual: As she wakes, she stays motionless—then, suddenly, hoists him in the air. The boy giggles.
Milo is adorable, and Lara is too—a fresh, pretty 15-year-old, delicately featured, slender, and (as evidenced by the ballet-stretches she begins before even getting out of bed) an aspiring dancer. She's applied to a ballet school, and later that day, when she's undressing for a physical exam, we first see that Lara's padded bra is covering a boy's chest.
From the other side of the privacy curtain, we hear her father and her doctor talking quietly about puberty inhibitors and when Lara will be ready to begin the hormone treatments that will make her body line up with her vision of herself. Those treatments, plus surgery, will take two years, and she's impatient. Another doctor—a psychiatrist—tells her she should relax.
"When I look at you," he says, "I see a beautiful woman."