TIFF Kids

My Life as a Courgette

Claude Barras

Director Claude Barras uses gorgeous stop-motion animation to tackle difficult subject matter in this delicately told story about a young boy sent to a group home after the death of his alcoholic mother, who finds comfort, acceptance and hope with his equally troubled new companions.

Director Claude Barras isn't afraid to tackle difficult subject matter in his beautifully animated film My Life as a Courgette. Working from a sensitive script that Céline Sciamma (writer-director of Girlhood and Tomboy) adapted from Gilles Paris' novel Autobiography of a Courgette, Barras skilfully breathes life into his claymation characters to tell the story of children at a foster-care centre.

When nine-year-old Icare accidentally causes the death of his alcoholic mother, he is accompanied to the Fontaines group home by kind policeman Raymond. He at first finds it difficult to fit in, and is desperately homesick: the only reminders of his former life are an empty beer can and his mother's nickname for him, "Courgette." He soon learns that the other children in the home have endured similarly traumatic circumstances. Alice's father is imprisoned for sexual abuse; new arrival Camille witnessed her parents' murder-suicide; and Simon, group leader and bully, lost both his parents to drug overdoses. With the help of the other kids at the centre — and the gentle-hearted Raymond — Courgette begins rebuilding his life, and gradually he comes to find comfort and acceptance in his new home.

This is a story that could have been devastatingly dark, but it addresses issues with subtlety and delicacy. The clean and simple animation style works in wonderful contrast to the difficult subject matter, and the characters' expressive faces give us hope for the innocence and resilience of children. My Life as a Courgette is authentic, empathetic, and ultimately uplifting.

ELIZABETH MUSKALA

This film is recommended for ages 12 and up.

N.B. some scenes may be upsetting for young viewers; coarse language; discussion of sex; mention of abuse, depression, suicide, and alcoholism; accidental death; threatened physical abuse; puppet nudity

location_on Scotiabank 3

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location_on Scotiabank 14

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location_on Bell Lightbox 3

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