Petite Maman

In DVD/Blu-ray by Alex Moss Editor

Céline Sciamma might be having one of the most low-key runs of stunning films cinema has ever seen. Since her directorial debut with 2007’s Water Lilies Sciamma is a filmmaker who explores intimacy and relationships in powerful ways.

Her latest, Petite Maman sees her turn her attention to the bond between mother and child. When her grandmother dies, 8 year-old Nelly (Joséphine Sanz) travels with her parents to her grandmother’s house to begin clearing it out. Playing one day in the woods near the house she meets Marion (Gabrielle Sanz) who bears a striking resemblance to her. The two become firm friends and it soon dawns on Nelly that Marion is in fact a younger version of her own mother.

What Sciamma does so eloquently in her style of filmmaking is make the mundane feel important. The small details are shot with such attention to detail that they take on meaning to almost enter your own reality. It is rare to come out of a Sciamma film and not be more attuned to the world around you.

Petite Maman is no exception. We follow Nelly through this lonely world built of grief and nostalgia as her mother reflects on the home she used to live in. As Nelly begins to realise who Marion is there is a sense of both sadness and excitement as she dares to better understand her mother.

It is one of those stories told from a child’s perspective but very much aimed at adults, that sense of familiarity of wishing you could better understand your parents while at the same time trying to figure out who you are in the grand scheme of life.

A beautiful story told with a delicate touch, Petite Maman is a simple delight.