sun 14/08/2022

DVD: Tomboy | reviews, news & interviews

DVD: Tomboy

DVD: Tomboy

Girl becomes boy, temporarily, in low-budget French beauty

Laure (Zoé Héran) as 'Michael'

On the face of it, a low-budget French film featuring the story of a pre-pubescent girl who pretends to be a boy promises little more than an off-centre tale of gender envy. Hardly edge-of-your-seat stuff, but Céline Sciamma’s second feature is lifted way beyond the run-of-the-mill by extraordinary performances, a daring but totally accomplished formal simplicity and a script that generates as much tension as the best Hitchcock thriller.

Moving to a new home with her famiy gives Laure, the film’s young heroine (Zoé Héran),an opportunity to re-invent herself as “Michael”, convincingly passing herself off as a boy to her new playmates. Neither her sister nor her parents suspect anything. There is an unusual emotional authenticity about all the relationships in the film – a tender and very physical bond with her younger sister (Malonn Levana) - every bit the ballet-crazy young female - a touching complicity with an all-forgiving father (Mathieu Demy), a more bristly reckoning with a no-less devoted mother (Sophie Cattani) and a range of beautifully drawn connections with the children she manages to fool.

The film was shot on a Canon 5-D, the SLR camera that gives stunning HD, and with a minimal crew. None of this matters, as this is a totally assured piece of masterful movie-making in which there isn’t a trace of artifice or self-conscious style, the burden of so much British art house film.

As in the best of tragedy, the story’s painful resolution is palpable from the start. Much as the film’s heroine enjoys being a boy temporarily, the fiction that is “Michael” must be undone, with all the attendant shock and shame. Céline Sciamma takes us for a remarkably moving ride through almost unbearable unease. It never feels forced, neither do we once feel manipulated. Such economy of means is startling – not least in such a stirring piece of cinema.

Watch the trailer for Tomboy

A script that generates as much tension as the best Hitchcock thriller


Editor Rating: 
Average: 5 (1 vote)

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