“My Life As A Courgette” is a tiny little movie about great big things. Clocking in at a mere 66 minutes long, you’d be forgiven for expecting something frothy and whimsical to go along with the eye-catchingly colourful character design. In fact, the movie deals with the weightiest and darkest of subject matters with a disarming frankness and charm which comes from seeing the world and its evils through the eyes of a child.
When ‘Courgette’ – his mother’s nickname for him – finds himself orphaned after a terrible accident, he struggles to adapt to life in the orphanage, despite the friendship of the policeman who takes him there. Gradually, he learns that the other children are there for similar, sometimes even worse, reasons than he is and discovers that family has little to do with who you’re related to.
There’s a wonderful lightness to Claude Barras’ animated feature and although it touches on alcoholism, deportation, murder, suicide and abuse, it retains an innocence and vulnerability that is simultaneously heart-warming and heart-breaking. There’s little grand, plotted drama, just a series of interconnected character moments and reflections, much like life really. The real genius at work is in the mirror it holds up to the darkness and desperation the adult world can contain and the bittersweet purity of a child’s love for their parent even when that love is neither deserved or reciprocated.
If it sounds like the film is on a downer then I have mislead you. It’s a sublime delight, plucking at the heartstrings like a virtuoso harpist giving their finest performance. It’s not blind to the darkest reaches of everyday life but nor is it bound by them, showing that for every black deed and terrible happening, there is light, there is love and there is laughter.