Thursday, May 11, 2017

[Review] My Life as a Zucchini

The French-language film My Life as a Zucchini (also known as My Life as a Courgette) is an animated picture of a darker, sadder, more somber variety. But don't let that stray you away, because this Oscar-nominated film is truly a bittersweet gem in the rough.

We follow the young Courgette (voiced by Gaspard Schlatter) as he moves into a foster home--the blue shadows under his eyes--an all-too-poignant form of baggage. We witness his ups and downs--from his bouts-to-bonds with a bully named Simon (Paulin Jaccoud), to his crushing on Camille (Sixtine Murat), a precocious new resident of the foster home. During the stay we also learn about the backstories of the other children, and in turn, wonder where they'll end up in the future.

Aesthetically, the film is molded with quirky, artful, and meticulously detailed stop-motion animation. The character designs are sort of Tim Burton-esque, think Frankenweenie but with a lot more color. There are some really cool-looking sequences throughout that display a childlike sense of wonderment, even amidst the melancholy tone and unfortunate circumstances in the story.

Emotionally, it's the type of film that'll cause you to well up within the first 10 minutes. Depressing, tender, and heartfelt all at once. "There is no one left to love us," one of the kids says. The narrative carries themes of belonging, lingering trauma, and the complicated push-and-pull between foster life and family life. It actually has a lot in common with an excellent indie film from 2013 called Short Term 12. All of the characters are so well-developed that we really get a significant hint of their personalities and feelings, even within the short amount of time we spend with them.

And I mean very short. In fact, the film's runtime barely eclipses an hour. My Life as a Zucchini is a small but moving, sad but charming film that leaves a big impact.

* 8.5/10 *

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