A certified hit on the film festival circuit, Céline Sciamma’s “Tomboy” deserves every accolade it’s inspired. Cleft-chinned, freckled and short-haired Laure (Zoé Héran) has the physical androgyny of a 10-year-old girl. But there’s more to Laure than that, and she embraces the tomboy that she is.
Laure and her family, including her expectant mother (Sophie Cattani), father (Mathieu Demy) and 6-year-old kid sister Jeanne (Malonn Lévana) have just moved into a new flat. Per Laure’s request, her bedroom has been painted blue. Laure gets along well with the girly Jeanne and they have fun playing together.
Everything changes once Laure ventures outside. She introduces herself as Mikael to Lisa (Jeanne Disson), the first of the neighborhood children she meets. Lisa, in turn, introduces Mikael to her friends, and things escalate from there.
The dramatic tension in the story arises from Laure/Mikael’s ability to maintain separate identities at home and with her playmates. As you might expect, Lisa, the only girl in the gang, develops a schoolgirl crush on Mikael, further complicating matters.
When Jeanne inadvertently discovers the masquerade, she does what any devoted younger sister would do and comes to the aid of Laure, even embellishing the myth. But before long, Laure/Mikael’s carefully crafted double life begins to unravel.
Heran’s one-of-a-kind performance is a riveting must-see. The same holds true for the other young actors, Lévana and Disson, making “Tomboy” a triumph. DVD bonus features include a “behind the scenes” featurette.