I have been itching to see this film since last December where My Life as a Courgette made the shortlist for Best Foreign Language Picture at the Oscars, but didn’t quite make the nomination. Only Waltz With Bashir has made it further in this category – so that puts My Life as a Courgette in rather prestigious company.
It’s company well earned as this little film is so much deeper than the posters would lead you to believe. In essence this is a story of an abused boy ending up children’s home after the accidental death of his mother. His peers are similarly damaged kids who have been dumped in this home due to their parents being jailed, sexually abusive, murdered, deported etc. It’s bleak for a film that is being marketed to children.
Whilst the emotions run strong throughout this film there are enough light touches to prevent this getting bogged down in abuse discussions or too sentimental. The conversations between the children about what sex means are hilarious – especially their interpretation of the woman spending most of it agreeing before the man explodes. I also appreciated the weird vignettes of the squirrel in the winter scenes and the bird’s nest we follow as the seasons progress.
As the credits rolled I found myself tearing up. It isn’t too much of a spoiler to say that the ending is something you can see from a mile off; then again at 66 minutes long there isn’t too far for any film to go. The relationships that Courgette builds with the adults and children are beautifully realised and deep… although there are some of the other children (like the toothpaste eating Georgie) that I would have liked to have known more about.
I maintain that there are some stories that are best told as an animation and My Life as a Courgette helps to prove that point. With real children this could have been played as overly sentimental, but with this beautifully executed stop-motion animation this becomes one of the best films I have seen to come out of 2016.