(Ma vie a Courgette) Swiss filmmaker Claude Barras’ stop-motion “My Life As A Zucchini” is a delightful take on childhood and the importance that no girl or boy be neglected. A newly orphaned boy nicknamed Zucchini (born Icarus) is befriended by a policeman on his way to the foster home where he makes new friends, Simon, Ahmed, Alice, Béatrice and Jujube. Barras says that the book “Autobiographie d’une Courgette” (Autobiography of a Zucchini) by Gilles Paris reminded him of childhood tales like “400 Blows” and “Bambi.” What makes his movie modern, Barras writes in the film’s press kit, is that “abuse is suffered in the outside world and the orphanage is a place fostering appeasement and reconstruction.”
Collaborating with Céline Sciamma, whose credits as director include “Girlhood” (2014) and “Tomboy” (2011), and who co-wrote André Téchiné’s recent coming-of-age “Being 17,” Barras finds a balance of dark and light, partly through empathetic characterization of children and adults alike. More than a plot’s complications, his characters are complex, almost as if the result of inspired anthropological study. Telling details, both absurd and touching, add to Barras’ assured telling in his brief, lovely film. Families, sometimes, form themselves. A Best Animated Film Oscar nominee. 70m. (Ray Pride)
“My Life As A Zucchini” opens Friday, March 10 at the Music Box. Check listings for whether showings are subtitled or dubbed.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” in words and images will be published in Spring 2022.