This is a brilliant film, with a simple story, and due to the impressive cast of youngsters the film has a unique raw innocence. Celine Sciamma, whose previous film 'Water Lilies', was well received in 2007, earning a slew of awards, has written and directed this touching film. As only her second feature length film, Sciamma wanted to avoid the path of bigger budget and grander film, that tempts so many successful young directors. She opted instead for a low budget summer shoot, for which she wrote the script in only three weeks. The filming took place over 20 days in the summer of August 2010. Sciamma herself states that at the heart of the film, is a philosophy of energy and spontaneity, that is not possible on films that require longer for financing and producing.
At the heart of the story is 10 year old Laure. She has just moved to a new town with her family and is settling in to the apartment, during the summer holidays. Dad has to start a new job, whilst her mother is heavily pregnant and having to rest, giving Laure a lot of freedom to explore the new environment. Younger sister Jeanne, at only 6 years old, is left behind whilst Laure explores the neighbourhood. Upon meeting Lisa, she introduces herself as Michael, and is accepted by Lisa to be a boy.
This is totally believable, as Laure looks and dresses like a boy. Her parents don't mind her dressing how she wants to, and accept her as the Tomboy she is. Seeing her haircut, I was reminded of my own at that age, as it was almost identical. I too was mistaken a few times for a boy, but when I could I grew my hair long. Laure revels in it, and she gains the freedom to play football with the boys, and be accepted by the local gang as a genuine boy. Much of the film centres on the children at play, during the warm sunny days. Their little rules and hierarchy are shot with a freeness that reflect the young actors natural play. Games like 'truth or dare', water fights and the eventual first kiss will bring to mind memories of childhood.
Zoe Heran (Laure/Michael) is excellently cast in a role that will surely be the start of a great career. She perfects the mannerisms of a young boy, and expresses all the emotions so well. Her little sister, Malon Levanna (Jeanne), is perfect in the role and brings a comedic charm that bely her 6 years. She is destined for greatness, lets see what the future brings. In the role of Lisa, we have Jeanne Disson, who portrays the innocence of her first crush on the cute Michael, with gentle tenderness. The parents are lovely, with Sophie Cattani in the role of her mother, and Mathieu Demy as her father.
The film has been hailed as one of the great films made by adults for adults about children, and I totally agree with this. But a film like this is only as good as the cast and that's where Sciamma has hit the jackpot. By now the story of little girls pretending to be boys & vice versa is old news but its how the story is told that can either intrigue or bore. I was drawn into their world from the start, and absolutely loved the ending.
Tomboys is released nationally on September 16th, and DVD release will follow by Peccadillo