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Tomboy(2011) movie review

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Tomboy(2011) movie review

Is this a movie about transsexual people?

First, let me make my self clear, quoting the word of the director of this film:

I made it with several layers, so that a transsexual person can say ‘that was my childhood’ and so that a heterosexual woman can also say it.

Therefore, this film is not necessary about a transsexual child as most people(and some review websites) interpret in my opinion. It really depends on how you perceive the film. Therefore, you can still see it as one. That’s why this film is so fascinating, because you will never know the truth. And the truth is even ambiguous for such a young protagonist in this movie.

In the following sections, I will give my reasons why this film is about a tomboy , or, to be exact, a girl who looks and acts like a boy rather than a trans-boy. You can agree or disagree with them.

The predicament

Kids of this ages(8~11) begin to be aware of their genders(Yes, it’s gender. Not sex.). They will realize how a gender is usually viewed and expected by the society. Like “Boys can’t cry” or “Girls are weak.” are two often-heard sayings in this stage. As a result, you will see kids start to be divided into groups based on their genders, for instance, boys and girls, instead of playing together as they used to do in kindergarten.

This is really unfortunate because often a child will be overlooked if he or she doesn’t not meet the gender’s usual behaviors and even be bullied because of that. What’s worse, their upper generations will also tell them that their current behaviors are weird and wrong. Then, some children will be confused about his/her gender identity, while others get along with it but self-doubt themselves. Eventually, it leads to unhappiness, loneliness, unconfidence, or depress.

Our protagonist, 10-year-old Laure, who loves blue bedroom, playing soccer, driving cars… In the film, she faces the same predicament. At that time, she didn’t join the boys’ soccer game since she was not familiar with them but saw Lisa was excluded(possibly because of her gender). My guess is that the scene made her less willing to review her true sex. She wanted to play with them but was worried that the boys wouldn’t accept her. So all the kids now knew she was a boy. A lie became a bigger one.

I think most people missed this two scenes:

  • Laure and Lisa were playing make-up game and Laure didn’t wipe her make-up away when she was back at Lisa’s home. It meant that Laure wasn’t uncomfortable with how most girls will do. She didn’t dislike to be called pretty and beautiful. She just preferred the things that are usually for the boys.
  • When Laure and her dad were playing poker. This scene wasn’t set up for no reason. It might imply that Laure’s dad raised her as if she were a boy(maybe deep down he wanted a son himself). But Laure was certainly a girl. And the father replied, “Are you cheating?", which perfectly fit their situation.

The lie

Some of people might wonder why Laure made up such a lie to deceive Lisa that she was a boy. In my opinion, the reason is pretty obvious:

Laure wanted friends, and Lisa was the first friend she made when she just moved to the new neighborhood. She didn’t know much about her. What would have Lisa thought if she had told her that her name was Laure but she didn’t look like a typical girl at all? Would she have called her weired and left? So the best solution at that time was lying about her gender. You need to take into consideration that children this age won’t care much about how the future goes. They just focus on solving the problem laying in front of them right now.

But this is just my presumption. The true reason behind the lie was maybe unknown to Laure. It could be just a joke. The proof is that when her mother asked her why she did that, she even said I didn’t know herself!

Also, as we can see from the movie, Lisa was already entering into puberty, and having feelings for a boy next door is normal for a girl this age. She began to be appealed by the opposite sex, at the same time, exploring relationships between men and women. Despite Laure’s female identity, she just went along with Lisa, holding her hands and kissing her, which she considered it was a boy’s job.

So did Laure and Lisa’s relationship consider to be love? I don’t think so.


I always hate the word gender coined to human languages. Because it expresses more of how people should act and do in the society despite their biological difference. I rather believe genders are manacles that imposed on people by the society. In the beginning, there shouldn’t be words like “sissy” or “tomboy”, and even “trans-gender”. People may have difference in personality, interests, sexual-orientations and so on. However, you can’t divide them into genders and force them to do the things they don’t want. In the end, we are much alike than different.


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