Thursday, January 26, 2012

Tomboy (2011)

Tomboy (2011)
Tomboy (2011)

Genre: Drama
Director: Céline Sciamma
Starring: Zoé Héran, Malonn Lévana, Jeanne Disson, Sophie Cattani, Mathieu Demy
Language: French
Duration: 82 min.
Rating: 7.8  

Ten year old Laure isn't like most girls. She prefers football to dolls and sweaters to dresses. When her family moves to a new neighborhood, life remains much the same. That is, until local girl Lisa mistakes Laure to be a boy. Indulging in this exciting new identity, Laure becomes Michael, and so begins a summer of long sunny afternoons, playground games and first kisses. Yet with the school term fast approaching, and with suspicions arising amongst friends and family, Laure must face up to an uncertain future

Tomboy is the second feature film from French writer director Céline Sciamma (Water Lilies).  It premiered at the 2011 Berlin International Film Festival, winning the Jury Teddy Award, for best LGBT themed film.

With a delicate yet confident hand, Sciamma avoids the sophomore slump with an emotional engaging and uniquely insightful film.  It's set somewhere in the suburbs of Paris, evidently a familiar setting for the director whose first film had a similar locale, and stars the remarkably androgynous Zoé Héran as Laure, a ten year old girl who moves to a new neighborhood and passes herself off as one of the boys.

Its a simple story that avoids any excess plot, drama, or development. Sciamma doesn't get into any deep reasons or moral questioning, she's only concerned with this one little girl's experience over one summer.

This type of film obviously relies heavily on talented acting performances to succeed and that is exactly what we get from Héran, who has a stoic presence and perfect mannerisms for the role.  Although the screenplay never lets us inside her head, she easily conveys Laure's confusion and internal struggles to us in a natural and completely captivating way.  She's supported by an equally impressive turn from the absolutely adorable Malonn Lévana as her six year old sister Jeanne.  Together they have an amazing bond of sibling chemistry,  and the scenes with just the two of them together feel unscripted and are some of the best cinematic moments of the past year.

Since it's so light and short, Tomboy doesn't have quite enough substance to leave a lasting impact.  But it is still an engrossing examination of childhood and early adolescent thoughts and feelings, from a director who certainly seems well on her way to becoming a master of portraying them.

Bonjour Tristesse

Tomboy (2011)

Tomboy (2011)

Tomboy (2011)

Tomboy (2011)

Tomboy (2011)

Tomboy (2011)

Tomboy (2011)

Tomboy (2011)


NeverTooEarlyMP said...

I think I would like this one, and I love that tag line: "One of the great films made by adults for adults about children."

Bonjour Tristesse said...

 Thanks, Ruth.  I do hope you get a chance to see it too.

G said...

Cool...going to put this on my must watch list

Copyboy said...

It sounds like a smart version of one of the boys.

Shutter Bug said...

I've seen this trailer before and thought that the plot was very promising. I wouldn't mind watching this.

d_4 said...

Good, it's light. That's exactly what it seemed like. Not a bad watch, interesting but not heavy. I'll look forward to it.

Beasts in Human Skin said...

Looking at those screenshots makes me feel creepy.  The film sounds alright but it's certainly not something I'm going to rush out to watch.  Maybe someday if I stumble across it I, I'll give it a go.

Hoi-Ming Ng said...

This can only end well.

FrontRoomCinema said...

I have been wanting to see this film for a while. Sounds excellent

The Angry Lurker said...

Met a few tomboys in my time...

Ruth Richards said...

Sounds like a really interesting film. Hopefully it'll get a release here, I need to expand my viewing of foreign language films. Great review!

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Definitely worth a rent if you get the chance.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

I'd say it's pretty accurate too.

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