Tomboy: French Film Review

517

Tomboy takes its viewers on a wild ride of emotions as it follows a child in coming-of-age story as he establishes his gender identity. 

The 2011 French film Tomboy has won Best Feature Film at San Francisco International Lesbian & Gay Film Festival, Philadelphia International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival, and Torino International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival. Since its release, it has been widely embraced by people all over the world, nuanced by its subtle messages which advocate understanding of different gender identities.

The film begins when prepubescent Laure moves to a new neighborhood and she is able to pass as a boy because of her athleticism and short blonde hair. The local boys encourage Laure (who tells them that his name is Mikael) to play soccer with them, and he starts to fit right into his new-found boyhood, even playing soccer without a shirt. When he is invited to go swimming with his new friends, he struggles to maintain his identity, deciding to mold himself a clay penis to help him pass as male.

When he is away from his family and devoid of his past gender performance, he grows more confident and forms relationships with the boys in the neighborhood as well as a girl named Lisa. Trouble ensues when Mikael is in a fight and his mom discovers that he has been passing as male outside of the household. Although his younger sister is immediately supportive, his parents have to cope with the idea that Laure actually wants to be known as Mikael, and they too struggle with understanding his identity. Although it is never stated in the movie that Mikael is transgender, it is implied through his gender presentation and when he reinvents himself as Mikael. His parents seem to accept his boyishness although the film is shot following Mikael in a minimalist perspective, so viewers cannot draw firm conclusions about the feelings of Mikael’s parents or even Mikael himself.

Tomboy takes its viewers on a wild ride of emotions as it follows a child in coming-of-age story as he establishes his gender identity. 

SHARE