Tomboy (4 stars)


Childhood gender identity struggle handled subtly and beautifully

(U) 82min

As the title suggests, this quietly beautiful film is about a little girl who wants to look and act like a boy. But given that indicator, audiences may still be surprised when writer/director Celine Sciamma reveals that the character they’ve been introduced to as Michael is actually Laure. That’s a measure of 10 year-old Zoé Héran’s incredibly convincing performance, and it also ensures the believability of the film’s central conceit; that Laure can successfully pass for a boy with the children in her new neighbourhood.

Laure’s deception is unknown to her parents, but while this gives the film a layer of bubbling tension, as we know the truth must surely come out at some point, Sciamma is more interested in capturing a particular mood than telling a dramatic story. Through lovingly observed scenes of children playing outside together she evokes a seemingly endless childhood summer, establishing a carefree tone that contrasts with the high stakes of Laure’s personal struggle to discover her identity. The film could be described as a pre-pubescent cousin of Sofia Coppola’s The Virgin Suicides; Sciamma offers a subtle and unique dramatisation of the contradictory experiences of childhood.

GFT, Glasgow from Fri 16-Thu 22 Sep.

TOMBOY UK Trailer - Eng Subs (Peccadillo)


  • 4 stars
  • 2011
  • France
  • 1h 22min
  • U
  • Directed by: Céline Sciamma
  • Written by: Céline Sciamma
  • Cast: Zoé Héran, Malonn Lévana, Jeanne Disson, Sophie Cattani, Mathieu Demy

Something like a pre-pubescent cousin of The Virgin Suicides, this quietly beautiful film centres on a little girl who introduces herself to the children of her new neighbourhood as a boy. Powered by an incredibly convincing performance by 10-year-old Héran, it sets a carefree tone that contrasts with the high stakes of…

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