Magazine article Out

Child's Play

Magazine article Out

Child's Play

Article excerpt

Child's Play

CÉLINE SCIAMMA MASTERS FAMILY-FRIENDLY GENDER-BENDING.

Say what you will about France, but only in such a nonchalantly enlightened country would Tomboy, about an androgynous girl exploring her gender, be viewed asa feel-good family film. In writer-director Céline Sciamma's sophomore feature, 10-year-old Laure (played by a precocious Zoé Heran) looks so boyish that viewers may have difficulty detecting her sex at first. In fact, Lisa, the ringleader of a group of pre-teens in Laure's new apartment complex, makes just that mistake. Without correcting her new friend, Laure initiates herself into the group as "Mikael" and begins to masquerade as a boy.

"It's before teenagehood. It's still a period of life where you always play another part," explains Sciamma, who left Laure's gender identity oblique throughout Tomboy. "When you lose your childhood, you lose the ability to reinvent yourself. I think it's part of the melancholy of the whole plot."

Though most of the film takes place within the comically emphatic land of children, Laure's naive acts of deception (like molding a clay penis to stuff in her swimsuit) create a thrilling psychological narrative - at least for adult viewers. …

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