[A] disarmingly sensitive documentary.
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What are people saying?
What are critics saying?
Lifshitz never demonizes those that don’t understand or oppose Sasha’s desire to be who she really is and they remain almost entirely offscreen. Instead, the director chronicles, with immense warmth and generosity, the toll this outside opposition takes on Sasha and her loved ones and how much love, care and attention is needed to compensate for the fact she’s not simply accepted like all her peers.
With sun-kissed cinematography by Paul Guilhaume and the construction of the story in miraculously intimate closeups of touching moments, “Little Girl” plays almost as if it were an aesthetically verité, yet scripted fiction film from the Dardenne brothers. It’s only the handful of interviews where the family speaks to the camera that breaks the spell.
Lifshitz envelops Sasha and her family in a sort of visual cocoon, as if to cradle them, shooting them in gentle afternoon light when they’re outside and in protective shadows when they are inside their house. His touch here is so delicate that it makes most American talking-heads documentaries look particularly crude and formulaic by comparison.
Sébastien Lifshitz’s lovely, clear-eyed documentary thoughtfully articulates the disorientation of gender dysphoria not from the inside out — Sasha is never less than calmly convinced of who she is — but from the outside in, as her transitioning identity sparks confusion and resistance in an uninformed community, causing her anxiety in turn.
Shot primarily at her eye level, Little Girl takes you straight to the heart of the trans child’s experience, seeing through her eyes the dogged support of her indefatigable mother and loving family.
This extraordinary documentary by director Sebastien Lifshitz, who has made many films about the LGBTQ+ experience (Wild Side, Bambi, Open Bodies), achieves a remarkable degree of intimacy with its young subject and her family.
With a limited, intimate focus, Little Girl becomes a grandly diagnostic analysis of French society, distilling the country’s fault lines into a few indelible images.
[A] tender observational documentary.