Original title: Petite Maman
Director: Céline Sciamma
In cinema premiere: December 17th
Runtime: 1h 12 m
Petite Maman is an intimate exploration of the discrepancy between childhood and adulthood, as well as a profound tale of juvenile friendship. With elements of magical realism, it depicts life amid loss. It is difficult to describe the movie without giving away too much of the plot (and twist), but Lundagård’s Linn Larsson gives it a shot.
Nelly (Joséphine Sanz) is eight years old, and her grandmother has recently passed away. Her family goes to the house where her mother Marion (Nina Meurisse) grew up to empty it before selling. One day Nelly wakes up to find that Marion has left and gone home for a break in the grief. When Nelly later goes out to play, she encounters a girl her age. The girls form a special bond and through their friendship Nelly comes to better understand her mother.
Petite Maman is an independent film and contains all the lovable characteristics of one. The ambiance is serene; every scene but two are sans score, and the camera moves smoothly over forest landscape and seventies interior.
Petite Maman delves into various delicate topics, such as the universal notion of being a bad parent when prioritizing yourself above your child (a phenomenon that, as we are all aware, applies to mothers exclusively). It also portrays the relationship between a mother and her daughter from an unusual narrative, namely the one of the kid.
Director Céline Sciamma, known for her “female gaze” perspective and coming-of-age dramas, gained global recognition for the utterly praised Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019). Like her former works, Petite Maman is an independent film and contains all the lovable characteristics of one. The ambiance is serene; every scene but two are sans score, and the camera moves smoothly over forest landscape and seventies interior.
Though the picture lasts solely 72 minutes it feels considerably longer – it is a slow burn and at times on the brink of uneventful. Petite Maman will not satisfy the craving for action, but it evokes tender reminiscences of childhood, like the excitement of a tree house, and insights that can be reached only in adulthood, as the bizarre realisation that parents were not put into the world with the sole purpose of nursing their offspring.
Petite Maman is a modest piece that contains multitudes. I appreciate the realistic dialogue between two kids, which is rare as adults seldom comprehend the dynamics and sincerity of one, and the suggestive commentary on intergenerational trauma. It is the shortest feature film I have seen yet left a solid impression. Some might find it mundane, but if you seek a visceral indie movie experience, look no further.