Derik Badman's Journal

2020-03-29 09:28

I only saw one moving car on my morning walk today. If there is any silver lining in all this, at least there is less pollution being made. Other than my walks around the block I've not been anywhere for more than 10 days (when I last went to the co-op). In some ways my world shrinks to this small area of land. Yesterday on my walk, I passed some children's chalk writing on the sidewalk "All in this together. Stay healthy." Today already it was washed away by the rain.

I continued my trip through Celine Sciamma's catalog with Tomboy (2011) yesterday. Like Waterlilies this one was primarily about children, though these were younger than the teens in the latter. The protagonist is Laure, a soon-to-be fourth grader who has moved to a new apartment with her parents and younger sister. Laure has short hair and dresses in shorts and a tanktop of a boyish cut. Her new room was painted blue per her request, and when she meets the first of the other children in the complex, a girl her age named Lisa, she says her name is Mikael. And then, to the children she meets, he meets, he is Mikael. We can see Mikael watching the boys, the way some of them take their shirts off when playing soccer, how they spit, how they act. And we see Lisa watching Mikael, you can immediately tell she has a crush.

The whole movie is tense. You know at some point Laure/Mikael's two worlds will collide. It's not like a thriller type of tense, where you are expecting the murder or the crime or capture of the murderer or criminal, more like a psychological tenseness. You know they will be hurt. You can see that already they know who they want to be and you know that especially in the immediate future it will be difficult and painful for them. But you also see Mikael having fun, enjoying being themselves with the other kids, despite the moments of worry. And even the little sister, who learns first about Mikael (before the parents), quickly adjusts and revels in the story of their older brother Mikael who loves them and protects them.

And yes, they are discovered, and for the most part if happens because Mikael acts too much like a boy and gets in a fight with one of the other kids (and wins). And it's painful to watch, and it's hard to not see the mom as a sort of villain in the results, but also one can sympathize. Because no matter what had happened, when school started, the child that all the kids called Mikael would be registered at the school as Laure. And none of the participants seem prepared to deal with the evolving situation. Laure/Mikael clearly knows how they feel, but at their age does not know what their options are, does not perhaps know that this is something they must learn over time and against much of society. And the mom sees her daughter and the pain she will feel, but also clearly is not... experienced with dealing with gender/sexuality as something not inherent to biology (else you'd think she could have picked up pretty easily on all the signs there to be seen).

The movie, thankfully, ends with a small bit of kindness and hope for Laure and Lisa.

I wrote about that more than I expected. I enjoyed the movie, I'm glad I watched it, though probably not one I'd feel the need to watch again.

Later in the day I also watch Mizoguchi's Ugetsu (1953) which I was much less impressed by. I kind of think I watched it before, but I really only remembered one part towards the end (though it is one of the big reveals of the plot). Had it not been just before dinner where I didn't have time to get through another movie I probably would have stopped this one before it was over. I think that's my second or third try at Mizoguchi, so I'm just going to say, not my style and move on.