A family moves to a new neighborhood during the summer holidays, with two daughters: 10-year-old Laure (Zoé Héran) and 6-year-old Jeanne (Malonn Lévana). With her Jean Seberg haircut and tomboy ways, Laure is immediately mistaken for a boy by the local kids, and decides to pass herself off as Mikael, a boy different enough to catch the attention of the leader of the pack, Lisa (Jeanne Disson) who becomes smitten. At home with her parents (Mathieu Demy and Sophie Cattani) and girlie younger sister, she is Laure: hanging out with her new pals and girlfriend, she is Mikael. Finding resourceful ways to hide her true self, Laure takes advantage of her new identity, as if the end of the summer would never reveal her unsettling secret.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Built on an intriguing premise about a young girl who more or less involuntarily begins to pass herself off as a boy in her new neighbourhood, Tomboy has great promise but is rather underdeveloped. Sweet and well observed, the film takes us inside a typical family in a typical Paris suburb - and gives us a spin.
Zoé Héran is wonderfully cast as 10 year old Laure - or Mikael as she introduces herself off the cuff to Lisa, another great performance from Jeanne Disson. The casting of these two central characters is pivotal to their relationship of gossamer threads; Lisa falls for Mikael, who likes the opportunity to play out the tomboy on her to its ultimate conclusion.
Sweet and adorable as Laure's little sister, Malonn Lévana also impresses as a credible 6 year old with a cute personality and a pretty sharp little mind. The parents have little to do, and it is the inner struggle that Mikael undergoes that interests filmmaker Celine Sciamma.
Her family is happy, the local kids are perfectly normal, her world is safe.
As Mikael she joins the local kids for playground soccer and even a swim - for which she has to prepare something to shove down her newly-fashioned boy's swim trunks. We follow her in these exploits and the tension of keeping her secret is the film's main device.
The first half of the film is rather flat as it establishes the scenario; it could have been done more economically for greater impact. The result is a slight film, albeit engaging, simply evoking an short summer incident she may eventually forget.
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CAST: Zoé Héran, Malonn Lévana, Jeanne Disson, Sophie Cattani, Mathieu Demy, Yohan Vero, Cheyenne Lainé, Rayan Boubekri, Christel Baras, Valérie Roucher
PRODUCER: Benedict Couvreur
DIRECTOR: Celine Sciamma
SCRIPT: Celine Sciamma
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Crystel Fournier
EDITOR: Julien Lacheray
MUSIC: Para One
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Thomas Grezaud
RUNNING TIME: 84 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Rialto
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: March 29, 2012