Greetings Cinema friends,
I rarely throw around the term perfect. As a fairly long-winded individual with a predisposition for tangents, I try (and often fail) to opt for direct language—brevity and accuracy can be a little elusive for me. So as I start this letter, I’ll try to be as clear about Céline Sciamma’s Petite Maman as the film is itself: it’s perfect.
The Portrait of a Lady on Fire director’s newest film is a small wonder. Short, sweet, innocent, timeless, and revelatory are all fitting descriptions here. Petite Maman follows a young girl, Nelly, to her late grandmother’s home. While her mother sorts through belongings and feelings both nostalgic and less-so, Nelly is left to occupy herself. Exploring the woods behind the house, she finds a girl her own age as well as a deep and immediate kinship. The magic that results is best unwrapped for yourself.
As a new parent and the product of my own parents, I’m at a point in my life where I’m seeing my childhood differently in my child, and seeing my parents differently too—as individuals that were once children, that were once new parents themselves. While films like Everything Everywhere All at Once, and Pixar’s Turning Red can be categorized as Millennial Parent Apology Fantasies, Petite Maman asks less for an apology from parents and children—rather Sciamma offers a dream-like vision of generational empathy.
Mother’s Day is right around the corner,