Tomboy (2011 film)

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Theatrical release poster
Directed by Céline Sciamma
Screenplay byCéline Sciamma
Produced by Bénédicte Couvreur
StarringZoé Héran
Malonn Lévana
Sophie Cattani
Mathieu Demy
Jeanne Disson
CinematographyCrystel Fournier
Edited byJulien Lacheray
Music by Para One
Hold Up Films
arte France Cinéma
Distributed byPyramide Distribution
Release date
  • 20 April 2011 (2011-04-20)
Running time
82 minutes [1]
Budget$1 million [2]
Box office$4.3 million [3]

Tomboy is a 2011 French drama film written and directed by Céline Sciamma. [4] The story follows a 10-year-old gender non-conforming child, who moves to a new neighborhood during the summer holiday and experiments with their gender presentation, adopting the name Mickaël. [5] The film opened to positive reviews, with critics praising the directing and the performers, particularly Zoé Héran as the lead. [6] [7] [8]


Tomboy was released on DVD-Video and Blu-ray in the United Kingdom on 5 March 2012, [9] and in the United States on 5 June 2012. [10]


Laure is a 10-year-old whose family moves to a new address in Paris. Laure sees a group of boys playing outside the window and goes to play with them, but they disappear quickly. Instead, Laure meets Lisa, a neighborhood girl. Lisa assumes that Laure is a boy and asks for Laure's name. After a moment's thought, Laure comes up with the male name "Mickaël". Lisa then introduces Mickaël/Laure to the rest of the neighborhood children, stating that "Mickaël" is the new kid in the apartment complex. Laure becomes friends with Lisa and the boys, playing soccer with them. When invited to go swimming, Laure cuts a one-piece swimsuit into male swim briefs, and makes a clay penis to put inside.

Over time, Lisa and Laure become closer, and Lisa eventually kisses her. Mickaël also becomes increasingly accepted by the group of boys. One day while playing, Lisa makes up Laure's face and comments: "You look good as a girl." Laure goes home hiding her face under a hoodie, but Laure's mother says she likes it, encouraging her to be more feminine.

When Lisa comes by the apartment to look for Mickaël, she runs into Laure's precocious six-year-old sister Jeanne instead. The conversation makes Jeanne realize that Laure has been presenting as a boy. Jeanne confronts Laure and wants to tell their parents, but when Laure promises to take her along on all of Laure's outings for the rest of the summer, she quickly becomes happy to have a big brother, which she says is "way better" than having a big sister. She also helps cut Laure's hair to be more boyish, and promises to keep Laure's secret.

After Mickaël has a fight with one of the boys for pushing Jeanne, the boy and his mother come to Laure's door to tell Laure's mother about her son's bad behavior. Laure's mother is quick to understand and plays along, but after the visitors have left, she scolds Laure for pretending to be a boy. Jeanne understands Laure's predicament and does her best to support her sibling emotionally. Laure's mother forces Laure to wear a dress and takes Laure to the apartment of the boy that Laure hit, and also to Lisa's apartment. Lisa is stunned to see Mickaël in a dress and runs off without a word.

Deeply embarrassed, Laure goes to the woods. After a time there, Laure takes off the blue dress, leaving on a tank top and boy-style shorts. Walking away from the discarded dress, Laure sees the other children in the distance. Laure can hear them talking, speculating about whether Mickaël is a girl or not. When they spot Mickaël, the boys chase and capture Mickaël and say they're going to see if Mickaël's really a girl. Lisa stands up to them and tells them to leave Mickaël alone. But when they tell Lisa: "You kissed him. If it's a girl, that's disgusting, isn't it?" Lisa agrees and reluctantly looks in Laure's shorts, with Laure in tears but letting her. Lisa is shocked. The boys and Lisa leave while Laure remains in the woods, devastated.

Later, it is seen that Laure's mother has given birth to a baby boy. The family spend time together at home, with Laure not wanting to go outside. However, Laure sees Lisa waiting outside the window, and goes out to see her. After a long silence, Lisa quietly asks for Laure's name. "My name is Laure", Laure responds, and smiles a little.



The film has been described as being about a girl who pretends to be a boy [11] [12] or, alternatively, about a transgender boy. [13] [14] Film critic Roger Ebert said "If you think you're looking at a boy, you see one. If a girl, then that's what you see." [15]

Céline Sciamma, the writer and director, said "I made it with several layers, so that a transexual person can say 'that was my childhood' and so that a heterosexual woman can also say it." She also said the "movie is ambiguous about Mickaël's feelings for Lisa. It plays with the confusion." [16]

The scene of the nakedness of Laure and the revelation resulting from it, is pivotal and Zoé Héran knew from the script that she would have to shoot naked. Her parents were present at the time of filming and this intense moment could only exist in the image with their consent in view of the filmed sequence. [17]


Tomboy earned positive reviews. Earning 96% certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes with a consensus saying, "In tune with the emotion and tribulations of childhood, Tomboy is a charming movie that treats its main subject with warmth and heart." [18] Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave 3.5 out of 4 stars, commenting that Tomboy is "tender and affectionate". [19] In 2017, it was ranked by IndieWire as "the third best lesbian movie of all time". [20] Autostraddle called it "excellent". [21]


See also

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