it’s been a weird week, weird as in slow and sad and generally bleak, for a multitude of reasons. usually i find solace by hiding away in the cinema, sitting in the dark and just detaching from reality and the horrible things the news constantly shows us but with everything that’s been happening in the world, it hasn’t felt so easy to hide away…
last night, i walked to tesco, picked up a bottle of shloer, a pot noodle and a box of chocolates (lol) and then came home, got into bed and put on ma vie de courgette. two reasons; 1) it’s only 65 mins long, therefore an easy film to commit to when every other option seems too difficult and 2) knowing nothing about it and only having heard rave reviews, i assumed it was a bright and cheery kids film that would make me smile and sleep easy. to be fair… it was exactly those two things… only with a little bit of dark twist.
it’s not exactly a harrowing tale of despair but then it’s not exactly entirely sunshine and rainbows either. it’s set in an orphanage with a somewhat eclectic group of young kids who are all in there for different reasons; those reasons range from addiction, abuse, crime, etc and i got about 5 mins in before i began to question my choice of film. i was already on the verge of tears and the last thing i needed was to see a lonely little boy lose his only parent and end up in an orphanage. but i figured that since i was already sad, i might as well stick it out and if i was gna end up more depressed than i was before starting, well… i’d deal with it.
15 mins in though and everything changed completely. don’t get me wrong, the film didn’t suddenly become wonderful with every kid getting a happily ever after but it did slowly become optimistic and with each passing minute, i felt myself grow calmer and actually start to *feel* brighter. it’s a heavy film and i wonder whether a child (say around 5ish) would actually understand the subject matter but maybe that’s what makes it so wonderful? it covers various aspects of growing up; self-discovery, coping with loss, falling in love and even a very brief but comical look at sex and tbh, even if younger kids don’t completely understand, they could watch and i’m sure they would feel and still resonate with it.
i didn’t know that the screenplay was written by céline sciamma, the director of girlhood and tomboy and while it’s not quite as hard hitting (if you will) as either of those two films, it explores that same inner turmoil of growing up in uncertainty, and dealing with trauma, only on a somewhat smaller scale but still so, so beautifully and delicately. i think that’s what got to me, the gentleness and sincerity of it all. there are some rly tender scenes with courgette (the main kid’s nickname lol) and individual characters throughout the film. the conversations they have aren’t particularly deep or insightful, in fact, they barely last more than a minute or two but they’re so real, honest and… normal? you know, the type that make you sit back and think ‘oh… maybe things aren’t so bad and maybe everything will be okay…’
the animation itself is stunning; it’s a mix of stop motion / claymation animation (i think?) and the colour palette, ughhh, the use of primary colours plays so wonderfully around the fact that the story is set around children but they blend so well into more tragic scenes, seamlessly switching between light and dark. i keep wanting to use the words delicate and gentle now but that’s exactly it! i can see why it was nominated for an oscar (best animated film) and having seen it, it makes zootopia’s win seem even more ridiculous. initially, my choice was kubo and the two strings which then became the red turtle but now, ma vie de courgette. (psa: zoo-bloody-topia is nowhere near as good as the above three and if you haven’t already, watch them!)
anyway, it’s not often that i find myself so drawn to an animated film. in fact… i think the last one actually was the red turtle a few weeks ago and prior to that… well, i’m not even sure i can remember. this though, this is worth every single minute. without a doubt, give up an episode of whatever tv show you were planning on watching and watch this instead. it’s 65 mins of gold dust! (ps. make sure you watch the subtitled version, the dubbed version won’t do it justice)