My Life As A Courgette is the multi-award nominated animation from Claude Barras, featuring a script adapted by Céline Sciamma, who made the incredible Girlhood. With a running time of just over an hour, Golden Globe & Oscar nominations and a hundred per cent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, it probably shouldn’t come as a surprise that I also recommend it as one of the films you absolutely must see this year. I have now watched it three times and felt a life-affirming emotional resonance during each viewing.
We join nine-year-old Courgette (so called from a nickname his mother gave him – his real name is Icare) as he moves into an orphanage following an accident at home. We watch as he struggles to fit in, gets a hard time from the resident bully, and pleads to go back to his home. Then a new girl turns up, Camille, who Courgette is instantly taken with, and between them and the rest of the orphans they begin to learn how to trust again.
The film is rated PG and anyone planning to screen if for young children should be warned that the other orphans’ backstories are markedly dark. They aren’t shown explicitly and are only lightly touched upon – most likely, they’ll go over younger viewers heads. But the older you are, the more meaning they’re likely to carry for you, and the film should be applauded for striking such a delicate balance in dealing with tragedy in a family film.
Indeed, even the brief allusions to the orphans’ histories are enough to open wounds in the audience and start them painting pictures in their heads. This darkness is a minor yet vital part of film as it allows the joy and beauty of the characters’ journeys to blossom and breakthrough in contrast.
Sometimes, simple slapstick provides some release when we veer too close to darkness. The scenes involving water bombs being dropped onto a policeman’s head, and his impotent anger, have made me laugh out loud on every watch.
At it’s core, My Life As A Courgette is a film about loss, love and trust – and about coming back stronger. It’s never afraid to show us the worst that people can be and, oh-so importantly, the best that we can be too.
My Life As A Courgette is released on Blu Ray and DVD on 2nd October 2017