Rajeev Masand – movies that matter : from bollywood, hollywood and everywhere else

March 29, 2013

Child’s play

Filed under: Have you seen this? — Rajeev @ 10:47 pm

Stories about gender identity are invariably fraught with angst and confusion, but there’s very little of either in Tomboy, an intimate French drama about a little girl who’d much rather be a little boy.

When 10-year-old Laure and her family move into a new apartment block, she’s mistaken for a boy by the local kids. She decides to let them keep thinking she is male, and leads a double life over the course of the summer holidays, playing football or going swimming with the boys, and inadvertently catching the fancy of a young girl who has romance on her mind.

Moving and poignant because every character feels real and responds honestly to circumstances, the film is thankfully devoid of melodrama. Even when the protagonist’s secret is out, there’s a quiet gentleness in the manner that the matter is dealt with.

Director Celine Sciamma never turns the parents or the kids into villains or clichés, and draws out a remarkably astute performance from Zoe Heran as our endearing protagonist. The best scenes in the film are between Laure and her younger sister Jeanne, another charming presence.

In equal parts witty and affecting, Tomboy is that rare film that touches your heart deeply without ever breaking it.

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