Movie Review: “Tomboy” – Beautiful, Heartbreaking, and Surprisingly Relatable

Written by Rachel Ganzewinkel April 30, 2012

Tomboy is a French film about a 10 year old girl, Laure, who has always “played the boy” and once she moves into a new neighbourhood she begins to introduce herself as “Mikael.” This film deals with gender identity issues when an individual begins to come into their own person, including their own sexual person.

Beautiful

Zoe Heran plays Mikael (nee Laure) with such stunning maturity I was blown away. The awkwardness with which she portrayed when having to fill “the girl” role and when playing “the boy” her sense of comfort was found to be so filled with ease you could immerse yourself in this world and understand that despite Laure being born a girl, her real identity is as a male.

Director Celine Sciamma introduces no sense of shame regarding a persons individual image of their body. When Laure steps out of the bathtub naked there is no shameful covering of any of her, as is the way of the French. Her body is her body and it is introduced unabashedly so. The only shame that arises is through other people’s perception of her as a boy within her new social circle and her attempting to keep them out of her home so they don’t find out she is actually a girl, in the sense she has female anatomy, not in the personal metaphysical sense of how she identifies herself.

Heartbreaking and Surprisingly Relatable

The topic of gender identity is certainly a huge undertaking, it must be done right so as not to demonize those who are struggling with gender identity as well as not alienating much of the audience who aren’t struggling with such an issue.

The kids in this movie make it what it is. The authentic portrayal of childhood, from the silliness to the awkwardness of first crushes, is enough for anyone to relate. Wanting to fit in with a group of people is something every person, child or adult, has gone through and continues to go through. The alienation of being on the outside of a set group is exactly the theme of the story that revolves around gender identity, but is also a theme that everyone everywhere is able to understand.

This makes those who are struggling with whether they are a male or female a less alien issue, something many can’t identify with to something everyone can identify with. This film makes an amazing and subtle point how people who demonize those who are transgendered are simply looking at the explicit issue–being born one gender but feeling another. That is only part of the issue, but if everyone understood the reality and depth to the issue of feeling alienated and simply just wanting to fit in and be accepted for who you are, then those who don’t “get it” hopefully would.

“You look good as a girl”

This quote was spoken by Lisa, the girl who has a crush on “Mikael” during a scene where she is putting makeup on “him.” The heartbreaking reality of such a statement was seen in the subtle change of attitude on “Mikael’s” face. Sure, “he” might look good as a girl, but “he” certainly doesn’t feel good as one.

 

This movie needs to be seen by everyone. The visuals are stunning, every frame could be a photograph. The  realistic portrayal of childhood makes you immersed in that world again, one where play reigned and fitting in was most important. The adeptness Celine Sciamma handled such a topic is inspiring. If you aren’t interested in the political aspect of gender identity issues then it is still a beautiful film with an interesting story about a girl who just wants to fit in and be accepted for who she truly is.

My Rating: 9/10

 

 

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About Rachel Ganzewinkel

Rachel loves movies and writing and has found the perfect amalgamation in writing movie reviews for We Eat Films. In between movie watching and the real-life world of work, she enjoys tea, reading, writing, and wearing over-size sweaters (while occassionally doing some of these simultaneously).

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