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In Tomboy, filmmaker Céline Sciamma s (Water Lilies ) second feature, a family with two daughters, 10-year-old Laure and 6-year-old Jeanne, moves to a new suburban neighborhood during the summer holidays. With her Jean Seberg haircut and tomboy ways, Laure is immediately mistaken for a boy by the local kids, and decides to pass herself off as Mikael, a boy different enough to catch the attention of leader of the pack Lisa, who becomes smitten. At home with her parents and girlie younger sister, she is Laure: hanging out with her new pals and girlfriend, she is Mikael. Finding resourceful ways to hide her true self, Laure takes advantage of her new identity, as if the end of the summer would never reveal her unsettling secret.
||Sophie Cattani, Jeanen Disson, Malonn Lévana, Zoé Heran, Mathieu Demy|
||AC-3, Color, Dolby, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled, Surround Sound, Widescreen|
|Number of Discs:
|DVD Release Date:
||June 05, 2012|
|Average Customer Rating:
|| based on 29 reviews|
Average Customer Review:
( 29 customer reviews )
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17 of 20 found the following review helpful:
An amazing performance in a film about a girl breaking the gender rules of childhoodDec 30, 2011
By Whitt Patrick Pond
Tomboy is an extraordinary little film from France that is really worth tracking down and seeing, partly because of the manner in which Céline Sciamma - who directed and also wrote the screenplay - has crafted a film that unfolds in such an unaffected and natural way that it feels like you're actually watching a slice of life, and partly because of the truly amazing performance by the girl, Zoé Héran, who plays the film's title character.
Because of the title, Tomboy (which is in fact the title it was originally released under in France), we know exactly what to expect. So when the film begins with what appears to be a ten-year-old boy (Zoé Héran) riding in a car with his father (Mathieu Demy), we already know that he is in fact a she, the proverbial tomboy who prefers to look and act like one of the boys. But as they head towards the new town where her family is moving to and where her mother (Sophie Cattani) and six-year-old younger sister Jeanne (Malonn Lévana) are already waiting in their new apartment, we are gradually and subtly drawn in to the illusion, particularly when the father indulgently lets the 'boy' sit in his lap and steer the car. We still know that it's a girl, but in her appearance and manner, we need no convincing that she could easily be mistaken for a boy.
When the girl (we later learn her name is Laure) starts exploring her new neighborhood, she sees a group of neighbor kids playing and goes to join them. The first one she meets is a girl her own age named Lisa (Jeanne Disson). Acting purely on an impulse, Laure introduces herself as Mikael, adopting a boy's name to go with her boyish appearance and manner. And it is as Mikael that she's accepted, crossing the gender boundary from girl to boy. As the summer progresses, Laure finds ways to not only maintain her new boy identity as Mikael but to also expand it, crossing further and further into boy territory. Nothing is explained, but the style is so natural and unaffected that no explanation is necessary. Everything simply unfolds on the screen. It begins with Laure/Mikael hanging out with the group of kids but staying close to Lisa as she studies the boys, carefully observing their behavior: the way they rough-house with each other, the way they spit, the way they take their shirts off when playing, and so on. At home though she is Laure, not telling anyone in her family about her little deception. But in secret, Laure/Mikael works on her act - practicing how to spit like a boy, taking off her shirt in front of a mirror to see if she can successfully pass as a boy without it, and later, going to truly daring and imaginative lengths when the boys decide to go swimming. When her little sister Jeanne accidentally finds out about the deception, Laure ends up drawing her into it, including among other things getting Jeanne to assist making her hair even more boyish than it already was.
But of course the masquerade and double life cannot be maintained forever - particularly with school coming up - and an incident in which Laure/Mikael engages in a fight with another boy who pushed Jeanne ends up bringing things to a head when the boy's mother comes to their apartment looking for the mother of 'Mikael'. The sudden change in attitude towards Laure/Mikael by Lisa and the boys shows just how much the unwritten rules of gender boundaries are already firmly in place before childhood is even over.
All of the performances are pitch perfect, a credit to Sciamma's casting choices (most of the child actors were non-trained first-timers) and to her ability to draw incredibly natural performances from them. Zoé Héran's Laure/Mikael is a marvel to watch as she starts from an impulse of the moment and then methodically develops her identity as the new boy in the neighborhood instead of the new girl. It is a delight to watch her as she explores and relishes being 'one of the boys' and all of the freedoms that role gives her. Malonn Lévana's Jeanne is totally believable as Laure's younger sister, completely girly in sharp counterpoint to Laure's tomboyishness. And in priceless 'baby sister' fashion, threatening to tell their mother when she first learns of Laure's deception and then letting herself be bribed into participating with the privilege of getting to tag along when Laure/Mikael meets up with the older kids. Jeanne Disson's Lisa is subtly effective, acting with her eyes as she watches Mikael: jealous of his company when he wants to play with the boys, envious of his ability to engage with the boys in ways she cannot and getting to do things she cannot, and all the while sensing that there is something different about Mikael, something that she can't quite put her finger on but has to do with the affinity she instinctively feels with him. One of the film's best scenes occurs when Lisa invites Mikael to her house and ends up getting 'him' to let her put make-up on 'him'. Mathieu Demy as Laure's father is good-naturedly indulgent of Laure's tomboyishness, while Sophie Cattani as her mother is loving but no-nonsense and it is she who puts her foot down when the deception is revealed. The boy actors are handled an interesting way, existing more as a group than as individuals, so that they're always 'the boys' as a presence, accentuating the invisible boundaries that exist between them and 'the girls'.
Highly, highly recommended, both for the unaffected non-Hollywood style, for being a masterful and original slice-of-life work of cinema, and for Héran's truly amazing and award-worthy performance as Laure/Mikael.
7 of 7 found the following review helpful:
It breaks my heart...Jul 11, 2012
By Andrew Ellington
Childhood is such a tricky time in one's life. You are bombarded with feelings you don't wholly understand and these feelings can grow into something that haunts you as an adult. What should otherwise be a carefree and joyous time in one's life can become an internalized nightmare for those unable or unwilling to explore their own emotional complexities; and what child is up for that task? I am still grappling with elements of my own childhood, moments in time that confuse me still, and I'm nearly thirty years of age. While watching a film like `Tomboy' I'm literally reduced to tears because I see so much of me and so much of my own confused childhood that I can only wish for something easier for my own children.
And yet, does easy really sculpt an adult?
`Tomboy' tells the story of ten-year-old Laure. Laure, while female, choses to identify as a male. She dresses like a boy, walks like a boy, acts like a boy. She even sits like a boy. Because of this, she is mistaken by a neighbor girl named Lisa FOR a boy. Instead of correcting her, Laure tells her that her name is Mikael and from that moment forward she does everything she can to keep up the façade, not for one second assuming the consequence of being found out once school starts. Instead, she spends her summer days playing ball with the neighborhood boys and forming a crush (that is reciprocated) on Lisa. The two bond rather quickly, but there is just no avoiding the inevitable.
I'm yelling SPOILERS because I honestly cannot review this without some.
With painstaking subtlety and beauty, Celine Sciamma tackles a very delicate yet weighty subject and delivers one of the finest films of this new decade. Some have criticized the way in which the interaction with Laure's parents is depicted and yet it truly helps build what is so important to the nature of this film, and that is the child's perspective. This is a story told through the eyes of a child. Even something as serious as gender confusion is depicted in a way that is most accessible to the child. Laure doesn't ever come off as ashamed but instead she is readily comfortable in her own skin. Even at home, despite refusing to admit to her parents who she wants to be, she doesn't shy away from being herself. Her parents know she identifies with the `male role' and they accept her for that. When Laure's mother finds out what she is doing though, the way she is lying to the neighborhood kids, she is upset. This scene in particular I found brilliantly depicted because it captures all the fear that Laure had and the reason she was so afraid for her parents to really `know' and yet it also captured the panic in the mother's eyes as she tried desperately to understand a way to fix it. She loves her daughter but she is afraid for her future, and this is shown beautifully without taking too much away from the film's primary focus; Laure.
I also wanted to mention the film's conclusion and the smile that has been mentioned. One reviewer mentioned that it took away from the film and yet I found it the perfect end point because it did two very important things. First, it kept in tone with the nature of the film. Children, unlike adults, very easily forgive, forget, accept and move on. It isn't until you reach puberty and you start to become a terrible person do you forget how to do that (I say that with intended sarcasm). So, in keeping with the idea of depicting such a serious subject through the eyes of a child, it is only fitting that Lisa forgive Laure her lie an accept her for who she is. In asking for her name, Lisa is essentially telling Laure that she doesn't have to hide anymore. Sure, Laure may want to be a boy and identify and or be referred to in that context, but it is quite unrealistic to expect that be the case entirely at such a young age. She is getting ready to attend school and it will be nearly impossible for her to keep up such a lie. Then there is the smile, which closes out the film. For me, this was such a beautiful way to show that Laure too understands that her life and her decision, while obviously difficult, is going to be okay. She knows that life moves on and she can get through this. This does not denote that she knows she has to change and that the phase (as some have called it) is going to be over now that she's been found out. Instead, this denotes the very idea that Laure understands she doesn't have to hide and that her life may not be as difficult as she imagined it would be.
The entire cast is fantastic, but really this film would have been nothing without Celine Sciamma's delicate direction and Zoe Heran's powerful performance. The way that Heran captures the very essence of this young girl/boy is flawless and the way she builds such a tremendous atmosphere around her (the jovialness and even the emotional fear) is just unforgettable.
I will, like a fellow reviewer, mention that this does contain underage nudity and it was a scene that took me back. I saw it coming, as a way to `reveal' the truth about Laure, and so I kind of prepared myself for it a few seconds before it actually happened, but it was a scene that I felt could really shake some viewers. While not perverted or pornographic in any way, being the father of two young girls I found it slightly unnecessary despite being a powerful moment in the film.
Some have likened this to `Boys Don't Cry'. I resoundingly agree with that assessment. The film is every bit as powerful as Kimberly Peirce's debut without mimicking (although the `show us' scene towards the end was obviously taken from that film) and thus creating its own entity.
This is a film that will be talk and discussed and debated for YEARS to come. I just hope that more people see it.
12 of 14 found the following review helpful:
Amazing until the end (SPOILER)May 27, 2012
By Forrest M. Frazier
To start off i saw this film last october at the Chicago International Film Festival and am excited for its release after all this time. with that being said this film has some tremendous high points throghout, but the ending left me extremely dissapointed.
for the description of the movie i believe the other reviews cover that very well, what i want to focus on is the ending specifically. When Laura is found out by her young male friends and more importantly her mom about her tomboyish (really, it should be called transgender, or gender identity, for her case of "tomboy" went a lot further than playing soccer with the guys) ways, her friends act as any boys that age would, by acting out and irrational, and extremely aggressive, abusive. The scenes with the young boys was very heartbreaking and almost moved me to tears, it is a very emotional sequence of scenes. the mother on the other hand, and where the film steers its message is very damaging, and dangerous especially in todays era. The mother is completely embarrassed by her daughters actions and takes her around the neighborhood and forces her to come clean to her closest friends and her love/like interest. it is a very grueling sequence of scenes, and the shouting and abuse she puts her daughter through to get rid of her "tomboyish" ways is plain unacceptable, however in this film apparently it is ok to humiliate, shout, and control your children in a fearful manner. what made this worse was that after all of the humiliation from the mother, her male friends, and sexual humiliation, laura suddenly decides she will be a girl now. what makes this idea absurd for the movie is at one point when with her little sister laura adamantly tells her not to tell mom, she WANTS to be a boy, to identify as a boy and loves it! this is not some "phase" in her life, she seems extremely determined going forward with her actions/thoughts as identifying male.
what the ending message is telling the audience, "tomboys" gender crossing children out there is that all of this is a phase and once you are found out you will be subject to humiliation and abuse but its ok! because in the end you will smile and be normal again. I was really pissed off by this ending because it taints an otherwise BEAUTIFUL film! please note i am giving it 4 stars for the first 4/5's of the film. the way the director develops characters, scenes, relationships, analysis of body, attention to detail is amazing and truly a piece of real cinematic art. however in the end the directors theme, focus on the film is truly a disturbing message. if the director wanted Laura to identify as female in the end and give up her "tomboyish" ways there was a better route, and message to be had than what was delivered. A film i compare with "Ma Vie en Rose" the rose film which was ahead of its time handles this topic of gender roles and gender identification much better than this film.
Also remember this is a french film, there is a scene of laura completely naked getting out of the bathtub, obviously way underage and when i saw it in the theatre i was caught off guard. i do not mind nudity, however i would definitely like to know before watching something if there wild be child nudity. it is not pornographic in any way, but if you plan to watch it with a family or friends, or children, please just be aware.
3 of 3 found the following review helpful:
Children and Their Peers Coping Better then AdultsApr 28, 2012
By Grady Harp
TOMBOY is a rare gem of a film. Writer/Director Céline Sciamma has created a story that is as genuinely tender about a subject that is becoming more discussed - transgender journeys - that in addition to being a film of brilliance it also demonstrates that in many ways, children deal with variations of normal better than adults. Sciamma presents this fact in such a subtle manner that it is only in retrospect that the impact of the film is comprehended.
A very loving family - the pregnant mother (Sophie Cattani), the tender father (Mathieu Demy), and two daughters - have just moved into a new neighborhood during the summer months. The younger daughter Jeanne (Malonn Lévana) is full of joy and creativity and is devoted to her older sister Laure (Zoé Héran - an extraordinary young actress). Laure dresses as a boy and going out to meet the new neighbors changes names to Michaël. Though shy and obviously fearful of how the others will perceive, Michaël is for all intents and purposes a boy. He joins in games with the other boys, meets a young girl Lisa (Jeanne Disson) who obviously is infatuated with Michaël, and retaining `his' nature as a boy he enhances his swimsuit with a creation of clay so that he will appear male to all. Lisa visits Michaël but only Jeanne is home and when Lisa asks for Michaël, Jeanne intuitively covers for Michaël. Jeanne thus wins Michaël's trust and is allowed to accompany him when he goes out to play with his new friends. Jeanne is happy to be a part of Michaël's secret. But when a fight occurs as Michaël struggles with Rayan (Rayan Boubekri) in defense of Lisa, Rayan's mother confronts Michaël's mother and Michaël's secret is out. With cruel lack of insight the mother makes Michaël wear dresses now and it is this act that destroys Michaël's new identity and the problems that follow are best resolved among the children.
The beauty of the film is that it is almost entirely concerned with the interaction of children: the adults have only momentary roles. Céline Sciamma appears to be saying that most children pass through stages of gender questions. She is not championing transgender roles, she is merely offering us a very sensitively drawn picture of how confusing moving form childhood to adulthood can be. Zoé Héran's performance is stunning as his the performance of her `little sister' Malonn Lévana. Young actor Mathieu Demy (son of director Agnès Varda and Jacques Demy) is a true discovery. But the film's genius is Céline Sciamma. We will be hearing more bout this gifted artist. Grady Harp, April 12
5 of 6 found the following review helpful:
Very Realistic Coming of Age StoryMay 01, 2012
I really like this movie because it makes the main character deal with the consequences of her actions in a real way while not making her parents appear uncaring and cold. Not to say that there aren't films out there that don't do this, it's just that the consequences Mikael/Laure has to deal with are more true to form then say... your average sugar-coated John Hughes movie and at such a young age. I won't go too much into detail, as I do not want to spoil the movie. I will say that I have seen other films by Céline Sciamma and this one does not disappoint. The main actresses of this movie are very talented and convey a naturalness in their scenes that is amazing to watch. How refreshng to watch kids actually behaving as kids without it seeming contrived. This is a good movie that does not disappoint!
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