Film review: ‘Petite Maman’ resists the anti-child movement

Josephine Sanz and Gabrielle Sanz in Little mom. (Pyramid Movies)

Little mom resists the anti-child movement.

Ochicken M. Night Shyamalan has been hailed as ‘the new Spielberg’, only the media class fell for it, looking for a way to categorize what had been Spielberg’s success and popularity through the latest example of the box formula. -Hollywood office. This is how the media always tries to explain the intricacies and idiosyncrasies of folk art. This is why the French film Little mom went unnoticed – kept away from the public eye – even as filmmaker Céline Sciamma unexpectedly rediscovers Spielberg’s once-amazing relationship to childhood wonder and pure emotion.

Little mom is all the more remarkable for its playdate story of two little girls, Nelly (Joséphine Sanz) and Marion (Gabrielle Sanz), who explore a suburban woods and befriend each other through familiar rituals of child development. , is also a meditation on aging, mortality, and sexuality. This is Sciamma’s take on this classic theme of French cinema – the mystery of female sexuality which is also seen as the basis of motherhood.

At a time when Disney-Pixar is multiracial and sexually diverse in “family entertainment,” Sciamma simplifies her artistry to convey the essence of childhood discovery. Nelly and Marion look like twins: apple-cheeked faces, thick bushes of auburn hair, and both wear pants like this endearing tomboy photo of juvenile Sarah Cracknell on the Saint Etienne album So hard.

Sciamma blends notions of pop femininity with the aura we recall from first reading “Little Red Riding Hood” and “Hansel and Gretel.” (Director of photography Claire Mathon’s soft, sultry lighting matches white as snow for the perfect balance of realistic wonder and fantastical amazement.) A child’s internal search for a role model – like Henry Thomas’ Elliott found in the alien ET – is what these girls see in each other. the others, but Sciamma’s fairy tale is also a work of homosexual introspection.

All along Little momRunning a perfectly brief 72 minutes (a lesson all streaming service filmmakers should heed), Nelly and Marion play existential Girl Scouts. Their mutual tenderness is both a matter of rapport and identification, more something innate. In their isolated world, Nelly’s father (Stéphane Varupenne), who does practical masculine things, is a kind and aloof figure, while her emotionally distant mother (and Marion’s own disabled mother) suggests a distant warmth – a vision pre-menarche of impending femininity. But there is a special sympathy in Little mom which cannot be overlooked and deserves to be appreciated.

In his previous cinematographic achievements (superb screenplays for the animated film my zucchini life, by André Téchiné be 17 years old, and his first feature film Youth), Sciamma displays a kinship with adolescence, femininity and otherness. Her loving insight made these experiences enjoyable. Then in Portrait of a lady on fire, Sciamma went pedantic-revisionist, making a “classic” lesbian love story that was also an exercise in feminist agony (including a bizarre ceremonial abortion sequence). lady on fire sounded aggressively confrontational – a fanatical outburst of Sciamma’s lesbian credentials. Now in Little mom, Sciamma quells this nightmarish rhetoric.

Little mom represents the most intellectualized yet emotionally pure example of queer adolescence since Terence Davies’ autobiography The long day is over. His investigation of the adult world is done quietly, expressively, close to the almost silent (because meditative) level of Albert Lamorisse. red balloon (1958), the greatest children’s film until Spielberg directed HEY It is obvious that Sciamma realizes that contemporary adolescence is troubled by overly sophisticated attempts to move beyond innocence, but Little mom insists on innocence – the things about adulthood that children cannot know.

Sciamma may have been denied the ‘new Spielberg’ coronation because he mourned the loss of his innocence in Little mom doesn’t fit the Pixar or M. Night Shyamalan formula. This deep and poetic sensibility puts to shame the obvious political correctness that ruins West Side Story Spielberg. The fact is, Sciamma’s child-parent empathy effectively connects HEY at AI She is fascinated by the emotional evolution of childhood which is also universal childhood.

Armond White, cultural critic, writes about films for National exam and is the author of New post: The Prince’s Chronicles. His new book, Making Spielberg Even Better: The Chronicles of Steven Spielberg, is available on Amazon.

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