After I saw Portrait of a Lady on Fire, I made a pact with myself to see all of Céline Sciamma’s prior work. I was able to get started on that pact with the 2011 gem, Tomboy. Sciamma is adamant about putting females front and center in her films and I admire her commitment. The pact I made definitely still stands.
Zoé Héran plays Laure, a 10-year-old girl whose family moves into a new neighborhood in Paris. One day, she is watching some young boys from the neighborhood play around and decides to approach them. Laure presents herself as a boy named Mickäel to the group of boys and the one girl hanging out with them, Lisa. Mickäel’s family doesn’t know that she is lying about her gender, but they know she’s hanging out with friends, so they don’t question anything until one of the boys gets into a fight with her.
Tomboy is a brilliantly written and beautifully shot film that I really can’t get out of my head. It’s subject matter is so cut and dry, but so complicated. It’s rare to see a film be truly honest about how kids act, but Tomboy does so with so much style. Telling stories like Tomboy can truly help people confront their own feelings about sexuality. I am a straight white male so I have fucking nothing to complain about, but not everyone is in that same boat. Mickäel definitely isn’t and you will be rooting for them the whole way.