My Life As A Courgette – Film Review by Bridget Deevy
Director: Claude Barras
Writers: Gilles Paris (novel), Céline Sciamma (screenplay)
Stars: Gaspard Schlatter, Sixtine Murat, Paulin Jaccoud
This new Oscar nominated, stop motion animation from first time director Claude Barras has all the charm you would expect from a film entitled ‘My Life as a Courgette’. Yet also, it somewhat unexpectedly deals with themes far darker than its disarming stop motion style would suggest, or indeed is found in most children’s cinema.
The story begins with nine year old Icare, nicknamed Courgette by his mother, who is an alcoholic. When his mother dies in an accident, which Icare blames himself for, he is sent to live in a foster home with a group of misfit children. This is no Oliver Twist orphanage however; the home is a gentle, caring place with adults who wish to protect the children. The darkness of the story instead comes from the children’s past lives and the film does not shy away from the difficult realities that they have to deal with: parental death or absence, bullying and even darker themes are alluded to, if not explicitly stated.
The characters too, are more Tim Burton than Wallace and Gromit, with the vulnerability of the children portrayed by their dark colouring, large eyes and delicate bodies as well as the animation itself, which deftly captures and expresses the tiniest sigh or thought, beautifully.
This film works, like all great children’s films, on a number of levels; children will understand the essential storyline, while not feeling talked down to, while the adults will be quietly sobbing into their sleeves. And even though this film follows a typically child friendly ending, these tiny characters will stay with you long after the credits have rolled.
The IFI are showing a mix of subtitled and dubbed versions of this film.