Nelly has just lost her grandmother and is helping her parents clean out her mother’s childhood home. She explores the house and the surrounding woods. One day she meets a girl her same age building a treehouse.
Céline Sciamma’s latest film, ‘Petite Maman’ is a lovely little film about childhood centering on a young girl coming to terms with the loss of her grandmother. There’s no better director today at telling stories from a female perspective, and ‘Petite Maman’ is another insightful piece of work from Sciamma, following on from the superb ‘Girlhood’ (teenagers) and ‘Portrait of a Lady on Fire’ (young women).
‘Petite Maman’ is the story of Nelly (Joséphine Sanz), who is temporarily living in her grandmother’s house as her parents clean it out. She spends her days exploring the wooded area nearby and one day she meets Marion, another girl of a similar age to her (played by her sister Gabrielle Sanz), and the two of them form a friendship. The film takes you on an emotional journey and it draws you right in from the get go with a touching sequence in a nursing home where Nelly says goodbye to the other residents. I really liked the sense of adventure as Nelly explores her surroundings and the score from French electro music producer Para One superbly enhances the movie. The film does go in some interesting directions and I wasn’t entirely sold on everything it does pertaining to the development of Nelly and Marion’s friendship. To be honest I felt it was strong enough without requiring an extra layer of complexity.
Céline Sciamma is on a terrific run and whilst I don’t think ‘Petite Maman’ is quite as strong as ‘Girlhood’ or ‘Portrait of a Lady on Fire’, I did enjoy it and clocking in at not much more than an hour (72 minutes) makes it more than worth your time.
Directed By: Céline Sciamma
Starring: Joséphine Sanz, Gabrielle Sanz, Stéphane Varupenne, Nina Meurisse and Margo Abascal