Starring: Zoé Héran, Malonn Lévana, Jeanne Disson
Director: Céline Sciamma
Running Time: 86 mins
Tomboy is a French film about a young girl who moves into a new neighbourhood, and as she meets her first new friends, she pretends to be a boy. However, the mistake snowballs and she has to live up to her male identity after she realises it’s too late to tell the truth.
This film didn’t really work for me. Initially, it was an intriguing concept, bringing up questions about the importance of identity and gender, however the story was ultimately predictable, and it didn’t have the sort of strong emotional impact I was expecting from it.
At the beginning of the film, you’re thrown into this new neighbourhood as unaware as the girl is, which gives you a great chance to relate to the character, and that made it very interesting to start off with, as you’re already bonded strongly with the character that supporting her later on in the film isn’t difficult.
However, the way that this idea works on you doesn’t continue on through the film. As the girl finds her friends, and begins the act of pretending to be a boy, it feels as if you become somewhat detached from her while she’s enjoying herself as a boy, because it really doesn’t feel as if anything is wrong with this act.
Another problem with the film was its pacing. Its art house qualities meant that it could be a little slower in order to give you more time to delve into the story and the emotions of this girl, but due to the fact that you end up feeling more detached from her at the end than the beginning, I didn’t feel that interested in understanding her feelings in this situation, which caused the slower pace to be much more of an annoyance than a necessity.
Nonetheless, there was an excellent central performance by Zoé Héran, playing the main girl. Taking on what is quite a complex character in terms of maturing feelings and being out of place, she manages to capture the girl’s confusion and occasional solitude very well, but it’s the problems with the way the story is presented that makes it a lot more difficult to notice these qualities.
The film does have its moments of anguish, joy or something in between, highlighting the confused feelings of this young girl, however it rarely manages to truly interest you in the story.
Overall, I’ll give this a 6.8, because although it was, initially, an interesting concept, it died down significantly towards the end, and its more complex undertones lose you as a viewer as the story progresses.