Tomboy (DVD Review)27 May, 2012 By: Ashley Ratcliff
Box Office $0.13 million
In French with English subtitles.
Stars Zoé Héran, Malonn Lévana, Sophie Cattani, Mathieu Demy.
A youngster moving to a new neighborhood has the inherent desire to make new friends and fit in. Such is the case with 10-year-old Laure (Zoé Héran), a tomboy who wears a short hairstyle and prefers shorts, sneakers and a T-shirt to dresses and frilly socks.
When meeting one of the girls from the neighborhood, Laure assumes the name of Mikael and plays the part of the average freckle-faced boy, for reasons that the film doesn’t explore. Given her appearance, none of the youngsters question her gender. During the day Laure roughhouses outdoors with the other children and in the evening she comes home, eats dinner with her loving parents (Sophie Cattani and Mathieu Demy) and plays with her precocious kid sister Jeanne (Malonn Lévana).
It’s summertime, and Laure/Mikael even goes as far as playing soccer without a shirt on and making a prosthetic phallus out of Play-Doh so as not to give herself away while splashing around at the local lake. Before long, “Mikael” wins the adoration of Lisa (Jeanne Disson), who gives her pecks on the lips in private. Laure’s innocence makes it difficult to discern whether she has non-platonic feelings for her friend.
With school about to start and having brought her younger sister in on the lie, the stakes are high, should the truth come to light. It’s to the filmmakers’ credit that the plot doesn’t fall into predictable ending with a glimmer of optimism.
Tomboy is an endearing story of acceptance and an intriguing approach to the subject of gender identity. Laure’s family makes a non-issue out of her masculine exterior, and so does the viewer. Rather than judge the confused girl, your instinct is to sympathize with her and embrace her as a person, regardless of the gender she chooses.