Wednesday, August 10, 2011


When you move to somewhere new there is an opportunity to remake your image, but it pays to be a prepubescent if you want to change your gender. When 10 year old tomboy Laure goes out to meet the neighbours she introduces herself as Mikael and the local kids all treat her as a boy.

Tomboy is a gentle middle class suburban drama about gender identity among kids. By keeping her hair short, wearing t-shirt, shorts and sneakers and by joining in with the other boys it is easy for androgynous Laure/Mikael to enjoy being a boy. Though there are a few tricky moments such as going swimming, and kissing a girl but Laure/Mikael is resourceful. But of course she realises that at the end of summer, school is a looming unsolved problem.

Not only is Laure's gender ambiguous but some aspects of the film are too. Was this the first time that Laure had pretended to be a boy? Was this the decision to call herself Mikael a spur of the moment one? Was she relieved to be found out so that she could get out of the tricky issue of school? Why did she want to be a boy in the first place (her little sister is very girly)? Is she jealous of her baby brother?

The opening scene and later comments by Laure's little sister and mother suggest to me that Laure has pretended to be a boy before, though other people see it differently. This is one of many things to think and argue about afterwards.

Of course this wouldn't be much of film unless it dealt with the secret coming out. This is where I think the film falls down. In my opinion I think Laure is too passive and accepting of being outed by her mother to the neighbourhood. I would have expected a determined and resourceful kid like Laure would have tried much harder to resist the outing. I know I would have tried a lot harder if it were me.

Apart from that one issue this is very well acted and well crafted enjoyable film. The film makers have kept the action simple to allow the kids to tell the story, and to avoid making judgements and preaching to us.

Ian's ratings 3.5/5

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