Despite the sun drenched carefreeness and easy intimacy between the families that is shown at the start of Tomboy, there is clearly tension bubbling beneath the surface. In a quietly intense performance Zoe’ Heran carries the film through some of its slower phases with Celine Sciamma’s naturalism occasionally feeling lethargic. Heran plays Laure, a complicated young girl who is struggling to find her own identity with the family constantly moving, leaving Laure feeling isolated and unsettled. Laure finds it easier to survive as a young boy than as a girl and this consequently leads to some awkward moments and uncomfortable scenes to watch. The sweet innocence of the tentative beginnings of Lisa’s (Jeanne Disson) romance is juxtaposed with Laure’s struggle to fit in with an aggressive and insensitive group of boys. It is interesting but can sometimes make the film feel like two very different pictures clumsily fitted together. The film can be admired however, for dealing with the subject of gender confusion, an issue that is rarely looked at in film; it is handled subtly and never veers into the needlessly melodramatic. It can also be complimented for the way it explores the family issues that have led to Laure’s identity, but never completely lays the blame on a dysfunctional family as a lazy excuse for a complicated problem. In fact, the relationship between Laure and her sister Jeanne (Malonn Levana) really is the heart of the film, giving it a much needed warmth, as does Matheieu Demy’s affectionate father and Sophie Cattani’s tough but caring mother. Celine Sciamma is clearly one to watch — Tomboy has already done well at several film festivals and it will be interesting to see what she does next.
Tom is a budding film reviewer, hell bent on providing informed opinions on the latest movie releases to those who need them, whether they like it or not.