We use cookies for site personalization, analytics and advertising. You can opt out of third party cookies. More info in our privacy policy.   Got it

Film review: Tomboy


A trusting gem of a film from Céline Sciamma.

When, during the long summer holidays, 10-year-old Laure moves to a new area with her family, she’s mistaken for a boy. She sticks with it, and, outside her home, becomes Mikhael. Mikhael looks the part – cropped hair, a skinny boy’s physique – and acts it, winning a fight with a boy and accepting a kiss from local girl Lisa. So that no-one should ever doubt she is a boy, Laure becomes a really real boy. To go swimming, she cuts down her girl’s torso-length costume and slips in a little penis she models from children’s plasticine.

At home, though, there are no pressures, no roles to play. Laure plays naturally with her six-year-old sister Jeanne. After Jeanne opens the front door to Lisa, who has called around for ‘Mikhael’, Laure has to strike a deal with her younger sibling.

As we know, summer holidays always come to an end, and Sciamma (maker of 2007’s Water Lilies) doesn’t shirk harsh realities or pretend people are wiser or kinder than they are. But, she suggests, when people really connect with each other, they can overcome. The natural, easy interplay between these very young actors is as good as you’ll see. A gentle, trusting gem of a film.

New Internationalist issue 446 magazine cover This article is from the October 2011 issue of New Internationalist.
You can access the entire archive of over 500 issues with a digital subscription. Subscribe today »

Help us keep this site free for all

Editor Portrait New Internationalist is a lifeline for activists, campaigners and readers who value independent journalism. Please support us with a small recurring donation so we can keep it free to read online.

Support us » payment methods

Subscribe   Ethical Shop