MY LIFE AS A COURGETTE (Switzerland | France/12A/70mins)
Directed by Claude Barras. Starring Gaspard Schlatter, Sixtine Murat, Paulin Jaccoud, Michel Vuillermoz, Raul Ribera
THE PLOT: After the sudden death of Courgette’s (Gaspard Schlatter) mother, the nine year old boy is sent to live in an orphanage with other children who have tragic lives. Courgette quickly befriends Simon (Paulin Jaccoud) and develops a crush on the new girl Camille (Sixtine Murat). With the help of his friends, and Raymond (Michel Vuillermoz) a police officer he has befriended, Courgette begins to overcome his tragic past, and make a new future.
THE VERDICT: ‘My Life as a Courgette’, which first screened at Cannes 2016 in the Director’s Fortnight sidebar, is the first stop motion animated film from Swiss director Claude Barras, based on a novel by Gilles Paris called ‘Autobiography of a Courgette’.
A young boy with wide eyes and blue hair, Courgette is charmingly and emotionally voiced by Gaspard Schlatter, who brings depth and heart to the character. The rest of the child actors, including Paulin Jaccoud and Sixtine Murat make these idiosyncratic and warm characters come to life. The same can be said for the adult cast, which includes Michel Vuillermoz, Natacha Koutchoumov and Véronique Montel.
The screenplay was adapted from Paris’ novel by Morgan Navarro and Germano Zullo, with extra work done by the acclaimed writer of ‘Girlhood’, Céline Sciamma. The team have made the story of Courgette a charming and warm one; it would have been so easy for this story to become one of loss and despair – and these notes are certainly hit throughout the film – but the entire film has a feeling of hope and humour, especially when these 9 and 10 year old kids start asking one another about sex, in all their innocence.
Director Claude Barras has created a beautiful world in ‘My Life as a Courgette’, with everything being ever so slightly off kilter, be it in size or colour, but backs this up with strong performances from the voice cast that add heart to this odd looking but charming little film. With a running time of just over an hour, ‘My Life as a Courgette’ does not outstay its welcome, but has plenty to say on the nature of hope. Stop motion animation is always beautiful to watch on screen, and this film is certainly no exception, with the physical animation making this story feel even more real.
In all, ‘My Life as a Courgette’ is a beautifully animated, small story that has strong performances from the voice cast. The film has tons of heart, filled with charming characters and a strong message of hope for the future. A film that has gained popularity with word of mouth, this is one for adults and kids alike.
Review by Brogen Hayes

My Life as a Courgette
4.0Tres Cute!
  • filmbuff2011

    Nominated for a best animated feature Oscar earlier this year, My Life As A Courgette (AKA Ma Vie De Courgette and My Life As A Zucchini) is a curious little film that has a lot of heart. Though, it’s a little hard to pin down who the audience is for this film.

    Young Icare (Gaspard Schlatter), with a nickname of Courgette, lives with his single mother in the city. His father has abandoned them, causing his mother to turn to the bottle. With his mother in a drunken rage, he accidentally pushes her down the stairs and she dies in the fall. Courgette then faces kindly policeman Raymond (Michel Vuillermoz), who accompanies him to a new foster home. This home has a number of abandoned and troubled orphans, victims of their parents’ selfish and irresponsible behaviour. The quiet Courgette doesn’t fit in at first and is bullied. However, he makes some friends and the arrival of new girl Camille (Sixtine Murat) changes things. He finds a kindred soul in her, with the two of them striking up a close friendship. Has Courgette finally found a place where he can truly belong with people who love him?

    Based on the novel by Gilles Paris and adapted by Girlhood writer/director Celine Sciamma, My Life As A Courgette is a charming film that tugs at the heartstrings. A Swiss-French co-production directed by Claude Barras, it comes in the form of stop-motion animation that is both cute and somewhat crude. Characters have oversized heads and eyes, while props like glasses and bowls of chips are smaller than they should be. Wide-eyed Courgette’s head even resembles Frank Sidebottom in animated form. And yet the animation feels appropriately childish, as if a group of creative children had been let loose in an animation studio to make their own film. The animation style gradually grows on you to become endearing, if somewhat different.

    It’s a tender film about children trying to live in and understand the world of grown-ups, though it’s not necessarily a film for children. It has mature themes in it, which belie the cutesy poster (hence the 12A rating). And yet, it’s not quite a film for adults either. It falls somewhere in between, making it an uncertain proposition for an audience. Its closest cousin would perhaps be Studio Ghibli, who often tell dramatic stories that happen to be in animated form. There’s no doubting the sincerity of the film. There’s a warm sense of wanting to belong for Courgette, as he gets to make friends and experience the first feelings of love. That’s something that can be identified with. However, the film is too slight at just 66 minutes to be fully satisfying. It’s over too quickly and the ending doesn’t quite have the emotional impact that the story deserves. Still, My Life As A Courgette is an interesting curiosity. ***