"It’s kind of complicated, actually.”
Céline Sciamma had already proven herself a strong writer/director of complicated love stories involving people figuring out their own sexuality when she wrote and directed Tomboy. The film tells a story of a 10-year-old girl – our titular tomboy – who tells all the kids she’s a boy when she moves to a new neighborhood. It’s a small decision but an important one as this young kid works to figure out who she is. Join us – Pete Wright and Andy Nelson – as we continue our 10 Year Anniversaries series with Sciamma’s 2011 film Tomboy.
Tomboy worked exceptionally well for both of us.
This story is touching and powerfully performed by the young actors in the film, notably Zoé Héran in the title role of Laure who starts going by Mickäel. The quiet intensity in this child’s performance is stunning and has to be weighted as she’s carrying Tomboy on her shoulders. On top of that, she has to play as a boy. This means taking her shirt off when her team goes skins for the football match. It’s incredible.
Sciamma gets amazing performances from the adults as well, and does a great job of not writing Laure’s parents as antagonists. Their reaction to her decision makes perfect sense as a parent and come across as loving people trying to figure all of this out themselves.
And Sciamma delivers a simple but beautiful film to look at. Many shots, notably of Laure as Mickäel, feel like still portraits and capture her struggle and strength. It’s these moments where Héran’s quiet performance really shines through.
Tomboy is a strong film about identity that feels as relevant today – if not moreso – than it did in 2011 when it was first released. The fact that Sciamma continues releasing potent, powerful, and important films dealing with this subject says a lot about her staying power as a filmmaker. We have a great time talking about this film. Check it out then tune in! The Next Reel – when the movie ends, our conversation begins!
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