Stars: Gaspard Schlatter, Sixtine Murat, Paulin Jaccoud
Released: 2nd June 2017 (UK)
Reviewer: Van Connor
The feature film debut of animator Claude Barras, My Life as a Courgette stands out immediately as one of the most visually striking animated efforts this side of Laika. More than that though, Tomboy writer Céline Sciamma ensures that this story of a young boy whisked away to an orphanage in the wake of his mother’s accidental death is also one of the year’s most emotionally turbulent efforts – seismically moving and wrought with soulful insight into the world of its characters, it’s a textbook case of seeing the world through the eyes of a child, and about as harrowing a vision as one could possibly handle.
Released both in French and with an English language dub – impressively, losing none of its vigour in the latter form – this stop-motion adaptation of Gilles Paris’ 2002 novel Autobiographie d’une Courgette serves, on a surface level at least, with equal effectiveness to both children and adults alike. For the kids, it’s full of loveable but scarred characters whose exploits will captivate them until they reach the age of seeing what’s under the surface, whilst the adults will find themselves immeasurably drawn in by those depths – the powerful story and elegant characterisation beyond alluring yet brought to life with stellar craftsmanship.
Intimate, yet with a striking vision that shows off enough of its world at large, My Life as a Courgette offers an eye-opening look at its young subjects and their heart-warming take on their place within it. For a first feature, Barras knocks it firmly out of the park with almost hilarious ease – his fusion of engaging source material, breathtaking animation, and a sharp writing nothing short of marvellous. Unafraid to tackle difficult subjects, yet happy to sprinkle some whimsy where needed, it’s an instant classic for not only parents and children, but just those looking for a compelling story to boot.