Céline Sciamma, France, 2011


Three successive games build on each other.  Just before this extract, Lisa, Laura’s friend, who doesn’t think that Laura is a girl, has been playing at making Laura up to look girly with makeup.  She thinks this really suits her.  Here the game serves to unveil the reality, but only Laura can know the truth. In this extract, Laura then goes off to play with her baby sister and her toys. This gives her the chance to take a small amount of playdough for her own use. The following day she’s to go swimming with her group of pals. She hopes that a small lump of modelling clay, placed inside her swimming trunks will give her the illusion of being a credible boy.  The boys play at pushing each other in to the water as they swim. Laura works up her motivation and then enters in to the game, plays like a boy and occasionally beats her opponents, sending them in to the water. The precarious nature of her subterfuge makes the spectator worried for her, and we fear that the little lump of playdough will slip out during her exertions and reveal that she’s pretending to be a boy. The game, much like at the football earlier in the film, allows Laura to become the boy that she wants to be, but it also brings the fragile nature of her imaginary identity into focus.


dressing up.