tomboy10-year-old Laure (Zoé Héran) is new in the neighborhood and soon makes friends… but she lets them think that she’s a boy and calls herself Mickäel. Director Céline Sciamma’s breakthrough is a straightforward, uncomplicated film about a very complicated situation, as it examines Laure’s relationship with her parents, younger sister and friends, and what happens when the truth eventually, inevitably emerges. That last part is handled realistically and with compassion, and there’s a naturalism in how the children are depicted. Moving, awkward (as it must be) and well-made, with a very strong, fully believable performance by young Héran.

2011-France. 82 min. Color. Produced by Bénédicte Couvreur. Written and directed by Céline Sciamma. Cast: Zoé Héran (Laure/Mickäel), Malonn Lévana (Jeanne), Jeanne Disson (Lisa), Sophie Cattani, Mathieu Demy, Rayan Boubekri.

Last word: “We shot in 20 days. It was just this great race. So there was no real preparation. But of course, we talked before. We read the script together. I talked about what scene I was going to do, where I would put the camera, what I was looking for. For each scene, I would always recall the goals of the character and what the scene was about. But it’s not like we had that intellectual talk about what gender is or anything. I picked this little girl [Héran] because she was kind of a tomboy, so she knew. She had a lot of friendship with the character. She had an appetite for it, and I knew that she would express something of herself. I wanted the children to be in the moment. I didn’t want them to think about what they were doing.” (Sciamma, PopMatters)

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