From the first shot of its ten-year-old protagonist, “Tomboy” is a study in gender identity and expectations.
Young Zoé Héran grounds the film with an amazing performance as the lead character, who moves to a new neighborhood and self-identifies to the local kids as Mikael, “the new boy in the building.”
But at home, Mikael is Laure, and writer-director Céline Sciamma (“Water Lilies”) includes a full-frontal shot of the female-bodied child emerging from the bathtub to show us the conflict between the character’s two identities.
Laure has an overworked father (Mathieu Demy), a very pregnant mother (Sophie Cattani) and a tres femme six-year-old sister, Jeanne (Malonn Lévana), with whom she’s very close. In many ways their new home represents a new beginning and we learn next to nothing about their old life.