The Queerview Mirror: Tomboy
Hey, guys! This is the first piece of our new weekly feature, The Queerview Mirror, a review of something queer-related (movies, websites, tv shows, anything) brought to you by one of us Queereka folks every Friday. Enjoy!
Attention: this piece
might contains spoilers for those who haven't yet seen the 2011 French movie.
A kid is riding in their father’s car. You can tell they have a special connection, you can tell this kid is loved. They arrive in their new home and the kid goes talk to their mom. Again, you can see how strongly they bond and how special this family is.
Through the whole mess of moving, the kid sees other children outside the building and goes looking for them, which is when they meet Lisa. Lisa, who starts treating them by masculine pronouns, and who then asks what their name is. After some hesitation, the kid answers:
“Mickäel. My name is Mickäel.”
This movie was referred to me by my sister, after she saw me reading a certain book written by Brazil’s first trans man known to transition – a book that will, at some point, show up here at The Queerview Mirror – and we spent some time discussing gender issues, a subject I’ve recently taken particular interest in.
So when I started watching the movie, I already knew the plot and already knew that Mickäel was actually Laure, and the first parallel the boy-looking girl brought on was to the Raising My Rainbow blog, the narrative of a mother raising her gender nonconforming son. It seemed like the family accepted and encouraged Laure’s identity, in small things like the short haircut, the boyish clothes, the bedroom walls painted blue.
The movie is basically the tales of a girl who identifies as a boy being terrified of the other kids finding out about her real condition, in some specific situations (like bathing in a river, peeing in public, playing soccer with no shirt on, defending their little sister) to which Laure/Mickäel always seems to find creative solutions. And things would have gone on smoothly hadn’t some of their friends showed up at the family’s door looking for Mickäel.
Now, this is where things get foggy. It seems to me that, if a girl identifies as a boy, that is something that needs to be addressed, talked over, figured out. Laure’s mother actually says “I don’t mind you playing a boy, but this [lie] can’t go on” – and while yes, she was probably referring to the alternative identity created, it feels like she is saying “you can be a boy in your head all you want, but you are a girl and will always be.” It feels wrong. I’ve been avoiding pronouns while writing this, actually, because it already feels wrong to use feminine pronouns when referring to someone (even if it's a ficticious someone) who clearly identifies as a boy.
Obviously, there are reasons for the mother to do this: Laure lied. To pretty much everyone. And this lie couldn’t be kept up for too long, considering school would start in a few weeks and Mickäel wouldn’t be there. It was probably for good that she made Laure tell her friends what was actually going on. What immediately follows, though, isn’t.
We all have said it at some point: kids can be cruel. And it hurts enormously how these ones exercise their cruelty in horribly homophobic and femmephobic manners, in reaction to finding out about the lie. And even though the movie’s last frame gives the impression of future acceptance, these scenes have very strong connotations, and leave some definite pain behind.
Overall, it’s a good movie. Technically, It’s very competent: Zoé Herán is incredible in Laure/Mickäel’s skin; her smiles and frowns fit perfectly into the disturbed existence she portrays, and writer/director Céline Sciamma seems to evidence her star’s acting skills with intelligence. And it brings out questions that people aren’t generally faced with – and that they should be. The way Laure’s mother handled things was somewhat strange to me, but what could have been done? How should it have been done? Isn't this something we should all think of at some point? Something we should all be able to handle?
It’s a movie you guys should watch (and then come tell us what you thought!).
Featured image is Zoé Herán as Mickäel.