Céline Sciamma's breakthrough film, Water Lilies, was a beautiful coming of age story that attracted a fair amount of attention due to word-of-mouth and popularity at film festivals.
Sciamma's second film,Tomboy, is a different animal, but has lots of similarities to its predecessor: swimming scenes abound and it is about a family that moves to a new neighborhood. It is about a girl named Laure who dresses as a boy and calls herself Mikael, deceiving the new children she meets. Initially, it didn't necessarily sound appealing to me, but based on Sciamma's last film, I needed to see it immediately.
The best part about Tomboy is how Céline Sciamma reveals Laure's secret to those around her. Laure pleads with her father (Mathieu Demy) for them to move again because she is thoroughly ashamed, while her mother takes harsh measures to correct her daughter's error, which is small compared to the punishment.
The questions that appear may seem to relate to gender and identity at first, but something greater here is at stake. There is also the issue of humanity vs. cruelty. Perhaps everyone has some kind of secret, because of the intolerance of their neighbors and friends around them.
At first, I thought that Tomboywould not be able to top Water Lilies. However, the film moved me more than I expected it to. Tomboy has more depth and heart than perhaps any film in the last several years. In addition, the characters are well-developed and well-acted and they do not have any cheesy or quirky lines that other films might contain.
This film might be slightly less marketable, because it refuses to sellout or do anything tacky or cutesy in order to make it more marketable. It's definitely worth checking out though, when it comes to a theater near you. Tomboy played at the L.A. Film Festival in June.