Teddy Jury Award – Berlin International Film Festival (2011)
New American Vision
RUNNING TIME 82’
PRODUCTION France, 2011
RATING Not Rated
GAUGE 35mm, HDcam, Digibeta,
“As in “Water Lilies,” Sciamma coaxes terrific and naturalistic performances from her
young non-pro actors. Heran is convincing throughout and has a commendable
screen presence that belies her young age and lack of experience, while Levana, as
her sister, injects a note of hilarity with a well-played and placed reaction shot.”
Boyd van Hoeij, Variety.
A sensitive portrait of childhood just before pubescence, Tomboy, the
second film by writer-director Céline Sciamma, astutely explores the
freedom of being untethered to the rule-bound world of gender codes.
About 20 minutes elapse before we learn the real name and biological sex
of Laure, a gangly, short-haired kid about to go into fourth grade. Her
family has just moved to a suburban apartment complex a few weeks
before the school year starts. The clan’s relocation provides Laure an
opportunity for re-invention, introducing herself to her playmates as
Michaël —an identity that gives her the liberty to go shirtless and wrestle
with the other boys, attracting the attention of crushed-out Lisa. Sciamma
shows a real gift for capturing kids at play, filming the August afternoons
devoted to soccer and water battles as their own otherworldly time zone.
But the director doesn’t present an uncomplicated view of childhood:
Laure/ Michaël, beginning to reciprocate Lisa’s smitten feelings, lives in
anxiety of being found out as much as she revels in being a boy. Extremely
empathic, Tomboy isn’t simply an earnest plea for tolerance: Childhood
itself, the film intimates, is full of ambiguities, of sorting out what you are
drawn to and what repels you.
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