Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. Switzerland/France, 2016. Rita Productions, Blue Spirit Animation, Gébéka Films, KNM, Radio Télévision Suisse, SRG SSR Idee Suisse, Rhone-Alpes Cinema, France 3 Cinema, Hélium Films, Office Fédéral de la Culture, Cinéforom, Loterie Suisse Romande, Eurimages, Canal+, France Televisions, Cine+, Centre National De La Cinematographie, Indie Sales Company, Indie Invest, Suissimage, Région Rhône-Alpes, Département de la Charente, Région Poitou-Charentes. Screenplay by Celine Sciamma, Germano Zullo, Claude Barras, Morgan Navarro, based on the novel by Gilles Paris. Cinematography by David Toutevoix. Produced by Marc Bonny, Armelle Glorennec, Pauline Gygax, Max Karli, Kate Merkt, Michel Merkt. Music by Sophie Hunger. Production Design by Ludovic Chemarin. Costume Design by Christel Grandchamp, Vanessa Riera. Film Editing by Valentin Rotelli. Academy Awards 2016. Golden Globe Awards 2016. Toronto International Film Festival 2016.
Stop-motion animation is more than just paint and glue when you experience the emotional impact of this combination of Girl Interrupted and L’Enfance Nue. A little boy named Ikar is sent to a children’s home after his alcoholic single mom dies of an injury in their home. The police officer who takes Ikar away from his apartment becomes fond of him and keeps up regular correspondence as the boy, who prefers his mother’s nickname for him of Courgette (or Zucchini in North American English), gets acclimated to the other children he is living with. All the kids in this place are the result of one heartbreaking tragedy or another, and while the story does not rewrite the book on this kind of narrative (right down to the meanest bully being the kid most in need of a friend), the film’s endearing characters and intelligent direction make it feel fresh and original. The whole thing has a beautiful delicacy to it that is never less than engaging, never preaching its social issues about love healing wounds and caring about society’s forgotten members, instead relating its most intelligent lessons in small, poignant moments: the little girl who gives an orphan boy her ski goggles while her mother releases a trickle-down-economics-inspired rage is the sort of thing that would have made Truffaut very proud.