Movie Review: My Life as a Courgette (Lights, Camera, Action!)

By Drew Hurley 21.05.2017

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My Life as a Courgette (UK Rating: PG)

Little Icare, or Courgette as he prefers to be known, lived a pretty sad life hidden away in a tiny attic room with a few crayons and a kite he made. Courgette drew his Dad on, because he missed his dad. He drew a chick on the back; his mother always said his dad loved chicks. That mother spends her days drinking beer and throwing the cans at the TV. Courgette's dad is out of the picture, quite literally as a picture of the family when Courgette was first born is missing a very telling third torn out. A terrible accident takes Courgette's mother away from him, too, and Courgette is forced to move into a foster home with children of similar circumstances. My Life as a Courgette (or Ma vie de Courgette in its native French) arrives at UK cinemas on 2nd June, complete with English dub.

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The unprepared may go into this film expecting a light-hearted tale due to its colourful, stop-motion animation. This is the furthest thing from that, though, as the film opens with Courgette accidentally killing his mother, and there are numerous other adult themes scattered throughout. Courgette moves into a foster home with just the clothes on his back and two items in his suitcase: one of his mother's beer cans and the kite he made. He's already made a friend before he arrives, though - the police officer, Raymond, who picks Courgette up after the accident and takes him to the home.

Courgette has a hard time when he first arrives at the home, especially with an older boy named Simon who plays the bully role for the rest of the children. As the two grow to know each other, however, a friendship develops. In fact, it becomes more than that as all of the children of the home grow into a makeshift family. Simon may bully his fellow children, but he knows the truth to all of their pasts and his teasing never gets too serious. The other children have gone through things as bad, or worse, than Courgette. There are children of drug addicts and criminals, plus there is abuse and even implied sexual mistreatment.

Despite their traumatic histories, the children begin to live, and to bond, as children do. Then their numbers grow, as a young girl named Camille is put into the foster home. Courgette develops something of a crush on Camille and the childhood coming of age story transforms from just a search for friendship and family to love, too. Camille's violent aunt has no interest in losing her meal ticket, though, and would rather Camille live with her.

With any world cinema film, it's always best to experience it in its native language, but the English dub is just as good here. There are some fantastic little-known child actors in the main roles but it also sees the fantastic Nick Offerman as police officer Raymond, and Ellen Page as the kind Rosy who works at the home.

Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10
Beneath the silly name, the childish designs, and quite basic stop-motion animation is a dark, poignant and truly touching coming of age story in My Life as a Courgette. It is a story of children who had their childhood taken away from them, searching for a place to belong and, more importantly, a family. It's clear to see why this film has won so many awards and received an Academy nomination. It may only run in at an hour and ten minutes, but this is a special beast, willing to tackle themes few others would ever dare to.

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