Petite Maman (2022) 1h 12m / PG / Fantasy, Drama
Nelly (Joséphine Sanz), an 8-year-old girl, has just lost her beloved grandmother and is helping her parents clean out her mother’s childhood home. One day, her mom (Nina Meurisse) abruptly leaves, and Nelly meets a girl her age as she’s building a tree house in the woods. Sure, seems normal. Nothing strange there. Doesn’t sound like we’ll be working out the anxious grief of maturity and generational disconnection in a shimmering, magical-realist fantasy world or anything.
Writer-director Céline Sciamma (Tomboy, Portrait of a Lady on Fire) has worked as often as a screenwriter on others’ films as her own, specializing in lively portraits of young people, if not necessarily on fire, then at least smoldering with the urgent uncertainty of identities still in formation. Specifically inspired by Hayao Miyazaki films like Spirited Away, Petite Maman is a heartbreaking, hopeful fairy tale that critic Mark Kermode said went “straight into my list of the greatest films ever made for children of all ages.”
French w. English subtitles