If Short Term 12 had been a co-production between Henry Selick and Tim Burton, it might well have ended up as something close to My Life as a Courgette, a simple but sincere stop motion feature that tests the constructs of growing up.
Childhood is a glasslike state: simultaneously infinite and constantly running out; probably never quite as good as we remember it, and something no one truly appreciates until it’s yanked from beneath our planted feet. Courgette, which is almost entirely set within an orphanage, shows this time to be a shared and mythical chapter of beautiful innocence, no matter how complete or damaged it comes delivered.
My Life as a Courgette makes for an unlikely footnote in the ever-present discussion regarding those misty territorial lines between television and cinema. Short Term 12 lived quite neatly up to its name: presenting a clean, concise story, perfect for its filmic running time. In comparison, Courgette’s meagre distance of under 70 minutes is a flicker you might not be able to thoroughly warm yourself against. It ticks boxes instead of hitting notes, setting up a story which might have been better served by trading in screen size for oxygen.
But that doesn’t make Courgette a failure – far from it. Barras’ debut, which is consistently beautifully animated, provides a handful of individual scenes of complete transcendence, often wisely scored to the loudest of silences, that are able to tap into that magical melancholia that truly great animations communicate with, while never being quite able to join them.
My Life as a Courgette surpasses its wacky title to discuss a serious subject earnestly. A wispy running time and an overly Disneyfied ending is somewhat at odds with its more profound content, but a genuine heart remains firmly, and proudly, upon its sleeve.
DIRECTOR: Claude Barras
WRITERS: Céline Sciamma, Claude Barras, Germano Zullo, Morgan Navarro (screenplay), Gilles Paris (novel)
SYNOPSIS: After losing his mother, a young boy is sent to a foster home with other orphans his age where he begins to learn the meaning of trust and true love.