Review: My Life As A Courgette is precious and magical, just like childhood

Claude Barras' stop-motion animated fable My Life As A Courgette. Picture: Thunderbird Releasing

Claude Barras' stop-motion animated fable My Life As A Courgette. Picture: Thunderbird Releasing - Credit: PA

Claude Barras' stop-motion animated fable offers a touching, melancholic, but hopeful vision of growing up in every beautiful and hand-crafted frame.

My Life As A Courgette (PG)

****

The kid called Courgette is blue. This is partly because he's a ten inch stop motion marionette with a giant Frank Sidebottom head that is half his body and he lives with his mum who drinks beer all the time.

Mostly though it's because he's been coloured that way: his hair and eyebrows are blue, and there is a circle of blue around his saucer shaped eyes.


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Within a few minutes he's in an orphanage and getting picked on by a red haired assailant. But having primed us for misery this Swiss film is merciful.

Claude Barras' stop-motion animated fable, elegantly adapted by screenwriter Celine Sciamma from Gilles Paris' 2002 novel, follows nine-year-old, blue-haired Icare (voiced by Gaspard Schlatter), who answers to the nickname Courgette, lives in a sparsely furnished room in the attic.

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He shares an untidy home with his mother (Natacha Koutchoumov), who rages against her ex-husband by throwing empty beer cans at the TV screen.

During a drunken rage, the matriarch takes a tragic tumble down the stairs and a caring police officer called Raymond (Michel Vuillermoz) spirits the boy to an orphanage run by caring headmistress Madame Papineau (Monica Budde).

Other residents include Ahmed (Raul Ribera), Alice (Estelle Hennard), Beatrice (Lou Wick), Jujube (Elliot Sanchez) and Simon (Paulin Jaccoud), whose angelic smiles conceal horrific tales of abandonment and abuse.

The arrival of a spunky girl called Camille (Sixtine Murat), who is embroiled in a custody battle with her money-grabbing aunt Ida (Brigitte Rosset), changes everything and encourages Courgette to open his broken heart again.

Apart from the evil aunt, the film finds the best in most people and situations. It offers a touching, melancholic, but hopeful vision of growing up.

It is perfectly attuned to the stop motion animation which is both basic and rudimentary, yet precious and magical, just like childhood.

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