Tomboy (2011 film)

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Theatrical release poster
Directed byCéline Sciamma
Produced byBénédicte Couvreur
Screenplay byCéline Sciamma
StarringZoé Héran
Malonn Lévana
Sophie Cattani
Mathieu Demy
Jeanne Disson
Music byPara One
CinematographyCrystel Fournier
Edited byJulien Lacheray
Hold Up Films
arte France Cinéma
Distributed byPyramide Distribution
Release date
  • 20 April 2011 (2011-04-20)
Running time
82 minutes[1]
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 gender non-conforming child, Laure, who moves to a new neighborhood during the summer holiday and experiments with their gender presentation, adopting the name Mikäel.[5] The film opened to positive reviews, with critics praising the directing and the performers, particularly Zoé Héran as the lead.[6][7][8]

Tomboy was released on DVD-Video and Blu-ray in the United Kingdom on 5 March 2012,[9] and in the United States on 5 June 2012.[10]


Laure is a 10-year-old whose family moves to a new address in Paris. 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 Laure's name.[11] After a moment's thought, Laure comes up with the male name "Mikäel". Lisa then introduces Mikäel/Laure to the rest of the neighborhood children, stating that Mikäel is the new kid in the apartment complex. Mikäel becomes friends with Lisa and the boys, playing soccer with them. When invited to go swimming, Mikäel cuts a one-piece swimsuit into male swim trunks, and makes a clay penis to put inside.

Over time, Lisa and Mikäel become closer, and Lisa eventually kisses Mikäel. Mikäel also becomes increasingly accepted by the group of boys. One day while playing, Lisa makes up Mikäel's face and comments: "You look good as a girl." Mikäel goes home hiding their face under a hoodie, but Laure's mother says she likes it, encouraging them to be more like a girl.

When Lisa comes by the apartment to look for Mikäel, she runs into Laure's precocious six-year-old sister Jeanne instead. The conversation makes Jeanne realize that Laure has been presenting as a boy. Jeanne confronts Laure and wants to tell their parents, but when Laure promises to take her with on any of Laure's 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 cut Mikäel's hair to be more boyish, and promises to keep Mikäel's secret. Although their mom is somewhat supportive of Laure's gender non-conformity (for example, by painting Laure's room blue), she also seems to want Laure to be more feminine.

After Mikäel has a fight with one of the boys, the boy and his mother come to Mikäel's door to tell Mikäel's mother about her son's bad behavior. Laure's mother is quick to understand and plays along, but after the visitors have left, she scolds Laure for "pretending to be a boy". Jeanne understands Laure's predicament and does her best to support her sibling emotionally. Laure's mother forces Laure to wear a dress and takes Laure to the apartment of the boy that Laure hit, and also to Lisa's apartment. Lisa is stunned to see Mikäel in a dress and runs off without a word.

Deeply embarrassed, Laure goes to the woods. After a time there, Laure takes off the blue dress, leaving on a tank top and boy-style shorts. Walking away from the discarded dress, Mikäel sees the other children in the distance. Mikäel can hear them talking, speculating about whether Mikäel is a girl or not. When they spot Mikäel, the boys chase and capture Mikäel and say they're going to see if Mikäel's really a girl. Lisa stands up to them and tells them to leave Mikäel alone. But when they tell Lisa: "You kissed him. If it's a girl, that's disgusting, isn't it?" Lisa has to agree and reluctantly looks in Mikäel's shorts, with Mikäel in tears but letting her. Lisa is shocked. The boys and Lisa leave while Mikäel remains in the woods, devastated.

Later, we see Laure at home with their mom, younger sister and new-born baby brother, not wanting to go outside. But when Laure sees Lisa waiting outside her window, Laure goes out to see her. After a long silence, Lisa quietly asks for Laure's name. "Laure", Laure responds, and Laure finally seems to get over any embarrassment. This final scene suggests hope for at least a friendship between Laure and Lisa.



The film has been described as being about a girl who pretends to be a boy[12][13] or, alternatively, about a transgender boy.[14][15] Film critic Roger Ebert said "If you think you're looking at a boy, you see one. If a girl, then that's what you see."[16]

Céline Sciamma, the writer and director, said "I made it with several layers, so that a transexual person can say 'that was my childhood' and so that a heterosexual woman can also say it." She also said the "movie is ambiguous about Mikael's feelings for Lisa. It plays with the confusion."[17]


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."[18] Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave 3.5 out of 4 stars, commenting that Tomboy is "tender and affectionate".[19] IndieWire called it the third best Lesbian movie of all time.[20] Autostraddle called it "excellent."[21]


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. ^éline-Sciamma/dp/B005JZ90M0/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1348691918&sr=8-2
  10. ^
  11. ^ Lisa uses the French pronoun that suggests she expects to hear a male name.
  12. ^ Fuchs, Ellise (15 November 2011). "What's Real and What's Not: Interview with Director Céline Sciamma". PopMatters. Retrieved 2 August 2019.
  13. ^ Phillips, Michael. "Delicate touch given to gender-bending tale 'Tomboy' another gender-bending tale". Retrieved 2 August 2019.
  14. ^ Johnson, Janie Lynn. "Tomboy". Queer Culture Collection (Penn State). Retrieved 2 August 2019.
  15. ^ Brown, Brigid. "15 Films Featuring Transgender Roles". BBC America. Retrieved 2 August 2019.
  16. ^ Ebert, Roger. "Tomboy Movie Review & Film Summary (2012)". Retrieved 2 August 2019.
  17. ^ Céline Sciamma talks "Tomboy," "Water Lilies" and why LGBT film festivals are still necessary at AfterEllen
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^ Dry, Jude. "The 15 Best Lesbian Movies of All Time, Ranked | IndieWire | Page 3". Retrieved 4 July 2017.
  21. ^ "Now, An Updated Edition Of The 102 Best Lesbian Movies Of All Time". Autostraddle. 14 February 2017. Retrieved 4 July 2017.
  22. ^ Warbler, Daniel (2 June 2014). "THE OUT TAKE: 10 FANTASTIC TEDDY AWARD-WINNING LGBT FILMS TO WATCH RIGHT NOW". Retrieved 9 September 2018.
  23. ^ "33rd Annual Young Artist Awards". Retrieved 31 March 2012.

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