My Life as a Zucchini Screen 87 of 17 reviews

My Life as a Zucchini

2016

My Life as a Zucchini Poster
  • Little hero Zucchini’s travails are illustrated with a compassion and deferential gaze that has been compared to Truffaut’s The 400 Blows. Whereas Truffaut honed misfit youth through Antione Doinel’s ruptured monologues and persistent alienation, Barras and Sciamma rely instead on a multiplicity of dynamic voices and stories, instilling the film with a lasting sense of respect and camaraderie.

  • This is a story that makes no bones about lunging directly for the jugular when it comes to broaching issues of tremendous social importance. There’s no elaborate metaphors or protective world building. This is animation that dares to engage with uncomfortable reality, plain and simple. It is, among other things, a gorgeous hymn to the social care system and the work undertaken by people who have dedicated their lives to caring for the vulnerable and unfortunate.

  • Charmingly, if distractingly, the clothes of the puppets occasionally shift positions, betraying the handling by the animators between frames–as when the red star on Zucchini’s T-shirt inadvertently takes on a life of its own. But on the whole, the filmmakers have used simple means to give their figures considerable expressivity.

  • The plot twist by which danger is averted is a clever one, but this is not a very plot-driven film, which is unusual for an animated picture. That’s not to say the writing lacks—the screenplay adaptation is by Céline Sciamma... The character work here is both intimate and nicely compressed. But the movie really gets to its most sublime heights visually. Every frame has a striking bit of visual business going on therein, but not in a flashy way.

  • A modest marvel based on a novel by Gilles Paris called Autobiography of a Zucchini. Was this change in the title mean to evoke Lasse Hallström’s tough and funny 1985 coming-of-age film, My Life as a Dog? This stop-motion cartoon feature more than stands up to comparison, and not just because the two movies center on orphans... Barras and Sciamma maintain their sardonic humor and sensitivity even when their material is horrific. Their movie is a triumph of talent and poise.

  • Told from the perspective of a nine-year-old boy, the film avoids bleakness thanks to its clay protagonist, whose blue hair, huge eyes and balloon-like head balance on a spindly body. First-time director Claude Barras (working with a script by Céline Sciamma) is on a quest to find humour and smudges of happiness, but never cuteness, in the most unlikely of places. The exuberantly coloured claymation is a delight too.

  • Don’t let the TIFF Kids designation fool you: Swiss animator Claude Barras’ My Life as a Courgette, one of the bright spots of this year’s Quinzaine, is one of the most emotionally acute and sharply observed films in recent memory.

  • Brutally unsentimental in parts, My Life as a Courgette does not pretend that the world is a fair place where everything always turns out to be fine for everybody. Rather this supremely humane and moving film concludes that kindness and courage can help one do the only thing that is truly possible: make the best out of the situation.

  • A compact triumph of stop-motion animation in the service of a bittersweet tale, My Life As A Courgette is as delightful as it is affecting. The story of a few months in the life of a 10-year-old orphan who believes he is responsible for the death of his alcoholic mother, Courgette sustains a tone that acknowledges that life is a blend of good news and bad but that kindness and compassion can cut through a great deal of soul-crushing adversity.

  • The film observes with pinpoint poignancy the small things that can bring joy to blighted lives, from clumsy dancing at a disco to the private cactus farm that identifies Courgette’s future foster-father as someone adept at caring for things at once tender and spiky. It’s likely that children, who are often tougher viewers than adults, will shrug off this sort of content with rather more dignity than their parents.

  • The sun always seems to be shining in My Life as a Zucchini, and yet darkness still very much exists. Claude Barras’ colorful stop-motion animation isn’t your typical children’s film. It both celebrates the potential of new beginnings while refusing to shy away from the disturbing realities that caused such transitions in the first place.

  • their haunted eyes: They're innocent victims of or bystanders to abuse, alcoholism, murder, and deportation. In the early scenes of Claude Barras's Oscar-nominated film, these faces seem defined by sorrow and worry, but the marvel of My Life As a Zucchini is how it conveys trauma with an understatement that never feels oblique.

  • Sadly, the best of the five [Oscar-]nominated films, My Life As a Zucchini, doesn’t stand a chance of taking home the trophy. Downbeat, dark, and often genuinely unpleasant, Zucchini is every bit as quintessentially French as Zootopia is American. This is brutal existentialism as observed through the eyes of society’s castoffs.

  • The treatment of animated films in this environment is yet another search for legitimacy. Courgette has the feel of former MIFF favourite Harvie Krumpet (Adam Elliot, 2003), in the way its animated clay visuals throw its very adult concerns – mental health and child abuse – into sharp relief rather than toning them down.

  • The tenderly melancholy French-Swiss stop-motion feature by Claude Barras was lucky to enlist Céline Sciamma, always a sensitive interpreter of the experiences of young outsiders, to bring her magic touch to the script.

  • Its fairly standard story follows a boy who ends up in an orphanage and must navigate the foibles of the other children, who range from hapless to bullying. Yet the frank, resolutely child’s-eye perspective of the writing and the subtleties of color and compositional detail keep the movie from being just another tale of self-discovery with its built-in peanut gallery of oddballs.

  • Throw in the sheer life-warping awfulness of the kids’ personal histories and the overall impression is one of near-manic reassurance that everything will be okay, as offered by the fear’s very source. The movie is a pleasure to look at, and often genuinely sweet, but it’s also akin to scaring the crap out of a little kid for 30 seconds and then smothering her with cotton candy for an hour.

More Links