Tomboy (2011 film)

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Theatrical release poster
Directed by Céline Sciamma
Produced by Bénédicte Couvreur
Screenplay by Céline Sciamma
Starring Zoé Héran
Malonn Lévana
Sophie Cattani
Mathieu Demy
Jeanne Disson
Music by Para One
Cinematography Crystel Fournier
Edited by Julien Lacheray
Hold Up Films
arte France Cinéma
Distributed by Pyramide Distribution
Release date
  • 20 April 2011 (2011-04-20)
Running time
82 minutes[1]
Country France
Language French
Budget $1 million[2]
Box office $4.3 million[3]

Tomboy is a 2011 French drama film written and directed by Céline Sciamma.[4] The story follows a 10-year-old tomboy, Laure, who moves during the summer holiday with her family to a new neighborhood. At that time of life, when everything is still open, she experiments with her gender identity.[5] The film opened to positive reviews, with critics praising the directing and the performers, particularly Zoé Héran as the lead.[6][7][8]

The film explores a theme of ambiguous gender. Writer/director Céline Sciamma said, "The movie is ambiguous about Mikael's feelings for Lisa. It plays with the confusion. I wanted it to be that way."[9]

Tomboy was released on DVD-Video and Blu-ray in the United Kingdom on 5 March 2012,[10] and in the United States on 5 June 2012.[11]


Laure is a 10-year-old girl whose family moves to a new address in Paris. One day Laure sees a group of boys playing outside the window and goes to play with them, but they disappear quickly. Instead, Laure meets Lisa, a neighborhood girl. Lisa assumes that Laure is a boy and asks for her name.[12] After a moment's thought Laure introduces herself as Mikäel. Lisa then introduces Laure as Mikäel to the rest of the neighborhood children stating that "he" is the new kid in the apartment complex. Laure becomes friends with Lisa and the boys and tries to hide her genitalia to appear like a boy (make it seem that she has a penis). At one point this leads Laure to pee her pants, which originally makes her embarrassed, but is soon forgotten. As they all play, Lisa and Laure develop crushes on each other and after swimming one day, Lisa kisses her. At this point, Laure also seems to be accepted into the group of boys.

One day, when Lisa comes by the apartment to look for Laure she runs into Laure's younger five-year-old sister, Jeanne instead, thereby revealing to Jeanne how Laure is presenting herself to her friends as a boy. At first Jeanne is upset, but when Laure promises to take her with her on all her outings for the rest of the summer she quickly becomes happy to have a "big brother" which she says is "way better" than having a big sister. She also helps Laure cut her hair and keeps her secret from their parents. Although her mom is supportive of Laure being tomboy (for example, by painting her room blue), she also seems to want her to display more culturally-defined "female" behaviors (for example, being thrilled when one day, while playing, Lisa puts makeup on Laure's face).

Then, after a fight with one of the boys, the boy and his mother come to Laure's door to get her in trouble. Laure's mother pretends to know that Laure is her "son", but afterwards she gets angry with her for telling everyone that she was a boy. After this incident, Laure's mother forces her to wear a blue girl's dress and makes her go over to the apartment of the boy she hit. Jeanne is visibly upset by this and tries to help Laure. Laure's mother is also clearly upset and sad about the situation. She confesses to Laure that she is forcing her to reveal that she is a girl to protect him. Laure's mom also makes her go to Lisa's apartment. When Lisa sees Laure in a dress, she runs off without a word.

Laure also runs away to the woods. After a time alone, she takes off the blue dress, leaving her in a boyish tanktop. Walking away from the discarded dress, Laure sees the other children in the distance. She can hear them talking about him and speculating if she is really a girl. When they spot her, they chase her and surround him saying they're going to see if she's really a girl. Lisa stands up to them and tells them to leave her alone. Once she is called disgusting for kissing a girl, however, Lisa reluctantly "checks" and confirms Laure's genitalia. They leave Laure alone in the woods in despair.

Later, we see Laure in her house with her mom, younger sister and new-born baby brother, not wanting to go outside. But, when she sees Lisa standing waiting outside her window she goes out to meet her. She asks her quietly what her name is. She says she is called Laure. She starts to smile. This final scene suggests hope for at least a friendship between her and Lisa.



Tomboy earned positive reviews. Earning 97% certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes with a consensus saying, "In tune with the emotion and tribulations of childhood, Tomboy is a charming movie that treats its main subject with warmth and heart."[13] Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave 3.5 out of 4 stars, commenting that Tomboy is "tender and affectionate".[14] IndieWire called it the third best Lesbian movie of all time.[15] Autostraddle called it "excellent."[16]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "TOMBOY (U)". British Board of Film Classification. 8 August 2011. Retrieved 24 November 2012. 
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ Smith, Ian Hayden (2012). International Film Guide 2012. p. 120. ISBN 978-1908215017. 
  5. ^ "What's Real and What's Not, Interview with Director Céline Sciamma". Popmatters. 15 November 2011. 
  6. ^ Dargis, Manohla (15 November 2011). "Movie Review — Tomboy". New York Times. 
  7. ^ Trish Bendix (16 November 2011). "Céline Sciamma talks "Tomboy," "Water Lilies" and why LGBT film festivals are still necessary". AFTERELTON.COM. Archived from the original on 16 January 2013. Retrieved 1 August 2012. 
  8. ^ "LA Film Fest: Film Guide 2011" (PDF). Los Angeles Times. 12 June 2011. 
  9. ^ Céline Sciamma talks "Tomboy," "Water Lilies" and why LGBT film festivals are still necessary at AfterEllen
  10. ^éline-Sciamma/dp/B005JZ90M0/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1348691918&sr=8-2
  11. ^
  12. ^ Lisa uses the French pronoun that suggests she expects to hear a male name.
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^ Dry, Jude. "The 15 Best Lesbian Movies of All Time, Ranked | IndieWire | Page 3". Retrieved 2017-07-04. 
  16. ^ "Now, An Updated Edition Of The 102 Best Lesbian Movies Of All Time". Autostraddle. 2017-02-14. Retrieved 2017-07-04. 
  17. ^ "33rd Annual Young Artist Awards". Retrieved 31 March 2012. 

External links[edit]