‘Petite Maman’ is a comforting and whimsical mature movie

In the first scenes of Celine Siyama’s new cute movie, baby maman, 8-year-old Nellie (played by Josephine Sanz) explores a haunted house of sorts – the quiet abode of her recently deceased grandmother. The site is normal. Yet it’s tinged with gloom, a feeling that someone of Nellie’s age would have a hard time expressing, but that Sciamma easily expresses every empty room and adult conversation taking place around her young hero. Many viewers may find the setting familiar to them, and a basic rule of thumb for an unpretentious story that takes an unexpectedly fantastical journey.

baby maman She is Sciamma’s latest contribution since the destroyer Picture of a woman on fireThe period of romance that was the French director’s most powerful work is really exciting. I wisely pursued this film’s heightened feelings with something more contained and muted; baby maman It’s fast, only five speaking parts, and it takes place almost entirely in and around Nelly’s grandmother’s house, her family hopping around eating cereal, browsing boxes, and patting each other on the back. The size is small, but it is also whimsical, because when Nelly explores the woods outside the house one morning, she meets another 8-year-old, Marion (Gabriel Sanz), who is just like her—and she is, she realizes, her mother, somehow transported through time. .

Sciamma’s text is not about the physics of time travel, or exactly how when she follows Nelly Marion back home, she instead finds a copy of her grandmother’s house several decades ago. This is the least sci-fi energy imaginable, but a perfect match for Sciamma’s relaxed tone. It illustrates a childish imagination: you may one day recognize your father as a peer, not as an authority figure. Through the miraculous acting of Josephine and Gabriel Sanz (who are twin sisters in real life), she evokes a simple and melancholic charm.

lilies / neon movies

Many scenes in baby maman Watching Nelly and Marion play – they build a stick fort in the woods, perform skits, and make food for each other. In each case, their parents are curious about two 8-year-olds wandering around unsupervised, hardly surprising at the fact that the pair seem to be each other’s exact doubles. This indifference only adds to the soft illusion, as if Nelly had wove herself a bubble, inside of which she would not be bothered by adult fears.

Perhaps oddly enough, most of Hayao Miyazaki’s classic animations are reminded of My neighbor Totoro, a film given to a more extravagant fantasy (flying creatures, a cat who is also a bus, and the like). But she’s also very interested in telling a story about children from their eye level, even if there are bigger fears in the background. at TotoroThe mother of the main characters is recovering from the disease. similarly, baby maman He does not ignore the obvious turmoil that parents go through. Adult Marion seems upset about her dead mother’s home filling, and Nellie gains more insight into her mother’s family dynamics as she continues to travel through the past.

Despite the highly conceptual premise, Sciamma allows the story to unfold through natural, childlike dialogue. Nelly and Marion are primarily interested in innocent things, but sometimes they leave some incomprehensible information that they got from a parent. Sciamma has always been good with young actors – her films water liliesAnd TomboyAnd Childhood All are clever snapshots of adolescence and the confusing dynamics that can often occur in schools.

baby maman He keeps his vision very focused on Nelly and Marion, because this movie is like a very special memory, the kind that you might remember as an adult and dismiss as a long-term dream. The narrative is short, and hardly full of action, yet its themes are comprehensive: dealing with grief, growing up, and trying to understand a parent from an entirely new perspective. Magna operas have been written on these topics for hundreds of years; Sciamma managed to garner many ideas in just 72 minutes.

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