Ma Vie De Courgette
(My Life As A Courgette)
Directed by: Claude Barras
Starring (French version):
This film tackled many issues; childhood, depression, anxiety, anger, love, maturity. And it felt strange it was all told from the point of view of a PG rated animated movie. PG in the UK means that it’s suitable for children of any age but some scenes may seem unsuitable for them. However, it’s to the parents’ discretion to decide whether it’s suitable for them or not. This film felt a little too adult for a PG rated movie in my point of view. Talks of ‘exploding willys’ felt a little too far for me. Having said that, the youngest child in the audience at the time was probably 8 or 9. Still too young to be worrying or being told about those kinds of things though.
Anyway, onto the film…
PLOT: A young boy terrorised by his alcoholic mother is sent to a safer place to live where he meets other children in the same situation. He befriends them and meets a girl called Camille and falls in love with her. The film centres around the children dealing with their individual personal struggles.
So as I said, the film felt too mature for me. I love mature animated films, it’s a real juxtaposition of what you’re brought up watching as a kid; animated shows/films should be family friendly, they should feature impossible things that could only be possible when it’s drawn from a person’s imagination. Real life shows/films that feature adults should be adult. This is why I love adult animated movies. They break down all those barriers of what you’re shown as a child. So already it has you on the back foot. Especially when the main characters are all children around the age of 10.
This is another strange thing about the film; the children are really young yet they talk about adult things a normal 10 year old wouldn’t. I guess they’ve been through more things an average 10 year old would normally go through so their perception of life is different and they’ve had to deal with more mature situations therefore maturing them faster than others. But it was sad to watch some of these children talking about their pasts and what their parents have either done to them or done to themselves. This is also classic of a french film to have a mature narrative for people a lot younger than it’s intended for. I saw La La Land in Paris and one of the trailers featured naked breasts and there were two girls of about 6 or 7 sitting in front of me. And it summed up the French way of life; they treat their children maturely, they talk to them like adults and expect them to behave that way too. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, it’s just an interesting thing to observe. But then you give younger children too much responsibility and time alone, they become bullies and think there’s no boundaries. There’s definitely a balance to strike!
To allow for more of these darker, mature scenes in the movie I would have preferred a higher age rating on the film just to get behind the pasts of the children a little more. With the stop animation, it would have contrasted brilliantly like my example of Anomalisa above.
Considering the dark nature of the film, it really quashed a lot of prejudices. For example, one of the characters in the film is a policemen that deals with the cases connecting to the children. And he has an interest in Courgette and takes him out on trips and back to his home to show him what a loving family home looks like. Courgette a t one point send him a picture he drew of two naked people with breasts and a penis and you thought,’ wow that would NOT be okay in reality’. But then you realise you’re being a cynical moron. And the whole time I was thinking,’ ulterior motive, gotta have an ulterior motive’. But no, he was just being a friendly adult to a damaged child. I hate the fact that in this cynical world we live in it made me think like that. But I was delighted to be proved wrong! 🙂
The stop animation was fantastic as always, there’s something cosy and innocent about the look of stop animation. Especially when they use fabrics and wood instead of all clay models. But again, there’s a slightly sad, dark feel to it as well. Like ‘something isn’t quite perfect in this world’.
If I was to pick up on one downside to this movie it’s that it wasn’t long enough. I realise in the stop animation world that about 30 seconds of a scene can take about a day to film but 1 hour and 4 minutes felt too short for me. I’d like to see an extended version of this film to fit in more drama and (I always say this) more exposition to the other characters, particularly the other adults that live with the children. But that’s the only bad thing i’ll say about it.
I realised halfway through the film that watching it in French would have been better. The English layer on top of all the French foundations felt wrong. Also, it’s how the movie was MEANT to be watched. So I recommend watching this movie in it’s original language to understand the feel of it more. I’ll be buying it on blu-ray to watch it in French to see if my perception of it differs at all!
My Rating – 7/10 | IMDB – 7.8/10 | Rotten Tomatoes – 100%