Director: Claude Barras
Starring: Ellen Page, Nick Offerman & Will Forte
Synopsis: After losing his mother, a young boy is sent to a foster home with other orphans his age where he begins to learn the meaning of trust and true love.
Rating: PG Duration: 65 minutes Release date: 18 September
Life is hard. In fact, most of the time life is a bitch. And in no other film released this year has this point been made quite like it has in My Life As A Courgette. The Swiss-French collaboration directed by Claude Barras is a simply wonderful film full of whimsy and child-like innocence, but should not be taken lightly by any standards.
Icare, or Courgette as he is later known, lives at home with his mother – an alcoholic who neglects Icare and who, it is suggested, beats him. Icare’s father is long gone and the only attachment he has towards his father is a self-made kite with a hand-drawn picture on depicting him as a superhero. Seemingly without friends, Icare collects his mothers beer cans from around the house and uses them in his bedroom to play and build other items with. One day, in a drunken rage, Icare’s mother storms up to his attic based bedroom. Afraid, Icare pushes her back, inadvertently killing her in the fall. Forced into a foster home, Icare must confront what he has done, while making new friends and overcoming the card that life has dealt him.
For an animated film, things don’t get much darker than My Life As A Courgette. The ability of director Claude Barras to deal with such adult themes in an otherwise child-friendly environment is to be applauded. The occupants of the foster home are no less damaged than Icare/Courgette and their ability to deal with their scenarios is both heartbreaking and inspiring. The children Courgette encounters have parents who have been deported, committed burglary, have severe OCD and, possibly, sexually abused their children. It’s a film that hints at the hardships they have endured, but that pulls no punches in showing what effect it has had on these children. At times, My Life As A Courgette is a difficult watch, in the way it represents what it is to be a child who suffers loss and such grief, but is also heartening in the way such things can be surmounted.
The DVD release comes with both the original French language version and the English-dubbed version. For the sake of this review, I watched the English-dubbed version and the voice acting is well thought out and syncs in well with the animation. The likes of Nick Offerman, Ellen Page and Will Forte balance out the other youthful voices in the film and the poignancy on offer shows both tenderness and strife in equal measure. Offerman in particular as the Police Officer who takes a shine to Courgette after the death of his mother is wonderfully understated and helps carry the film to greater heights.
Perhaps, and this is rather odd for an animated film, My Life As A Courgette will be enjoyed more by adults than it will children. Arguably, younger audiences will give a shrug of the shoulders towards the film whereas adults will indeed laugh and cry here. There are jokes aplenty; hearing the bully of the group describe how adults have sex is wonderfully written yet entirely innocent. My Life As A Courgette is an impressive film and deserves all the credit is has received and is quite honestly one of the best films of the year.
- Introduction by Peter Lord from Aardman Films
- The Making of My Life As A Courgette
- “Audition” footage
- Festival footage
- Animation workshop