Film Review – Petite Maman (2021)

Title – Petite Maman (2021) 

Director – Céline Sciamma (Portrait of a Lady on Fire) 

Cast – Joséphine Sanz, Gabrielle Sanz, Nina Meurisse

Plot – After her grandmother passes away, young girl Nelly (Joséphine Sanz) heads to her grandmothers house along with her parents where in the woods near the home Nelly meets a girl her own age named Marion (Gabrielle Sanz).  

“I’ve made a friend, I think”

Review by Eddie on 05/10/2022

After the worldwide success of her last film Portrait of Lady on Fire, French arthouse director Céline Sciamma returns to the feature film world with a fantastical childhood drama that touches on some huge themes while never becoming overbearing or overstaying its welcome. 

Clocking in at a refreshingly brisk 72 minutes, the BAFTA nominated Petite Maman is a film that viewers should intend to watch with as little knowledge as possible as while it may at first seem as though Sciamma’s film is heading down a well-trodden path that we have seen numerous times before when dramas explore childhood and how children deal with death, life and parental bonds, Maman takes viewers to places that aren’t always predictable creating a touching little experience that will strike a chord with many. 

All taking place in the slowly paced manner that has become a staple of Sciamma’s films both recent and long past, Maman is never in a rush to explore the meaning of young girl Nelly’s friendship with the mysterious Marion whom she meets in the woods that run close by to her deceased grandmother’s estate but when the questions to this relationship begin to become apparent there’s a whole new layer of emotion and intrigue that is sure to leave viewers wanting to explore this story more even after the credits have rolled. 

Front and centre within Sciamma’s drama is two adorable performances from the Sanz siblings who both deliver above average performances as Nelly and Marion. 

With much of the film forgoing too much interaction with those in their adult years, much of the heavy lifting of the film is handled by the Sanz girls with the two actors and Sciamma ensuring that while the story they are telling is heavy in subject, Maman never tries and loads up with intense or overbearing material making this a tale with a adult subject matter but an accessible and all-ages delivery. 

Final Say – 

A short, sharp and small film with a notable beating heart, Petite Maman has familiar elements but director Céline Sciamma and her impressive young duo make sure this is a memorable French film with many layers to unpack once all is said and done. 

3 1/2 treehouses out of 5 

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