With transgender issues so much at the forefront these days, the 2011 French drama Tomboy may seem quaint, and even regressive, six years later; but Céline Sciamma's quiet and gentle study of a pre-teen girl who presents herself as a boy shows no interest in wading into political activism or the seemingly infinite new vocabulary that has emerged around the subject in the last few years.
Zoé Héran gives a wonderfully thoughtful internal performance as Laure, a gender non-conforming girl on the cusp of adolescence, who uses her family's move to a new apartment complex as an opportunity to introduce herself to her new friends as Mickäel. Free from expectations, she observes and imitates the behavior of the local boys, and flirts with a girl (Jeanne Disson) who is drawn to the slightly different new boy in the neighborhood. There's isn't a false moment in Tomboy, which treats its subject with careful fidelity to its protagonist's exploratory state of mind. Those most involved in gender issues advocacy will likely object to Tomboy's touching conclusion, which eschews the complicated identity matrix that is currently in fashion in favor of the liberation of simplicity and honesty. Also with Malonn Lévana, who, as Laure's younger sister Jeanne, is one of the most delightful and natural child screen presences in recent years.
Tomboy was brought to my Potluck Film Fest by Flickcharter Rachel Gilbert, who can be found on Flickchart under the username figureitout. She ranks it on her chart at #115 / 1537 (93%), placing it as her #2 out of 11 movies in Flickchart's genre related to gender issues. Tomboy ranked on my Flickchart at #905 (76%), making it my 4th favorite out of 18 movies related to gender identity.