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
Jeanne Disson
Sophie Cattani
Mathieu Demy
Music by Para One
Cinematography Crystel Fournier
Edited by Julien Lacheray
Hold Up Films
arte France Cinéma
Distributed by Pyramide Distribution
Release dates
  • 20 April 2011 (2011-04-20)
Running time
82 minutes[1]
Country France
Language French
Budget 1 million
Box office US$129,834[2]

Tomboy is a 2011 French drama film written and directed by Céline Sciamma.[3] The story follows a 10-year-old transgender child (given the name Laure by his parents) who, after moving with his family to a new neighborhood introduces himself to his new friends as Mikäel. The film opened to positive reviews, with critics praising the directing and the performers, particularly Zoé Héran as the lead.[4][5][6]


Laure is a 10-year-old child 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, and Laure introduces himself as Mikäel. Lisa then introduces Mikäel to the rest of the neighborhood children stating that "he" is the new kid in the apartment complex. A bath scene in the film reveals that Mikäel has a vagina, and a following scene confirms that Mikäel was assigned female at birth as his mom addresses him and his sister as "girls." Mikäel becomes friends with Lisa and the boys and tries to hide his genitalia to appear like a boy (make it seem that he has a penis). At one point this leads Mikäel to pee his pants, which originally makes him embarrassed, but is soon forgotten. As they all play, Lisa and Mikäel develop crushes on each other and after swimming one day, Lisa kisses him. At this point, Mikäel also seems to be accepted into the group of boys.

One day, when Lisa comes by the apartment to look for Mikäel she runs into Mikäel's sister, Jeanne instead, thereby revealing to Jeanne how Mikäel is presenting himself to his friends as a boy. At first Jeanne is upset, but when Mikäel promises to take her with him on all his 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 Mikäel cut his hair and keeps his secret from their parents. Although his mom is supportive of Mikäel for being tomboy (for example, by painting his room blue), she also seems to want him to display more culturally-defined "female" behaviors (for example, being thrilled when one day, while playing, Lisa puts makeup on Mikäel's face).

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

After running into the woods Mikäel overhears the boys talking about him, and when they see him running they chase him and surround him saying they're going to see if he's really a girl, Lisa stands up to them and tells them to leave him alone. Once she is called disgusting for kissing a girl, however, Lisa reluctantly "checks" and confirms Mikäel's genitalia, leaving Mikäel distraught.

Later, we see Mikäel in his house with his mom and sister, not wanting to go outside. But, when he sees Lisa standing outside his window he goes out. This final scene suggests hope for at least a friendship between him and Lisa.



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."[7]


Tomboy earned very 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."[8] Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave 3.5 out of 4 stars, commenting that Tomboy is "tender and affectionate".[9]

Home media[edit]

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



External links[edit]