My Life as a Courgette   Ma Vie de CourgetteUS title: My Life as a Zucchini
4.5/5  MUST must see SEE
dir Claude Barras
scr Celine Sciamma
prd Armelle Glorennec, Eric Jacquot, Marc Bonny
English voices Erick Abbate, Ness Krell, Romy Beckman, Nick Offerman, Will Forte, Ellen Page, Amy Sedaris, Barry Mitchell
original voices Gaspard Schlatter, Sixtine Murat, Paulin Jaccoud, Michel Vuillermoz, Veronique Montel, Adrien Barazzone, Brigitte Rosset, Raul Ribera
release Fr 19.Oct.16, US 24.Feb.17, UK 2.Jun.17
16/France 1h06
My Life as a Courgette
Wary friendship: Courgette and Simon

offerman forte page
london film fest
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
My Life as a Courgette There's a bracing simplicity to this French stop-motion animation that amplifies its extraordinarily complex themes. A story about children who feel like they don't belong anywhere, the film has a potent resonance in the various characters' experiences. It's artful, warm and sometimes shockingly perceptive, unafraid to dip into topics most kids' movies run from.

After his drunken single mother dies, Courgette (Abbate) is rescued by friendly policeman Raymond (Offerman) and taken to a group home with other children in social care. Courgette is immediately the target of bully Simon (Beckman), but soon earns his respect and becomes part of the gang. He also quickly finds a common ground with new resident Camille (Krell). Their teacher Mr Paul (Forte) takes them with carer Rosy (Page) on a skiing holiday. And for the first time Courgette begins to understand what it means to have a family he can rely on.

There's nothing particularly surprising about the narrative, and scenes play out in natural rhythms on the way to an expected but remarkably engaging finale. And the characters are all matter-of-fact, never stealing scenes from each other while quietly traversing their own journeys of discovery. While each of the kids has his or her own back-story, the adults also have their own issues to deal with, including Rosy's pregnancy and Camille's overpowering aunt (Sedaris).

Visually, the characters and sets look like a children's book come to life. People have enormous eyes on oversized heads, with snaky arms and stick-thin torsos. Colour is splashed everywhere, from their hair to the various locations. And everything is so expressive that it boosts the emotional kick that comes from the human interaction. So when one of person finds tears swelling in his eyes, the audience might experience the same thing.

In adapting the book by Gilles Paris, writer Sciamma gently echoes the themes that run through her work as a director: children who feel that they aren't like other kids and wonder if they'll ever find a place they belong. It's packed with things we tend to ignore about children (like their boundless curiosity about sex), as well as beautifully gauged discussions of truly horrific tragedies. And without ever pushing the sentiment or preaching a sermon, this movie quietly offers hope in both the resilience of the human soul and the fact that some people are capable of offering unconditional compassion.

cert pg themes, violence, innuendo 6.Apr.17

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