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Petite Maman (2021)


Sep 2, 2019
Real Name
Title: Petite Maman

Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Family

Director: Céline Sciamma

Cast: Joséphine Sanz, Gabrielle Sanz, Nina Meurisse, Stéphane Varupenne, Margot Abascal

Release: 2021-06-02

Runtime: 72

Plot: Eight-year-old Nelly has just lost her beloved grandmother and is helping her parents clean out her mother's childhood home. She explores the house and the surrounding woods where her mother used to play and where she built the fort Nelly has heard so much about. One day, her mother suddenly leaves, and Nelly meets a girl of her own age in the woods, building a fort.

PETITE MAMAN (2021) - Celine Sciamma's sensitive and superb PETITE MAMAN is akin to a novella for inquisitive children. Like all good bedtime stories, it's made out of seemingly ordinary events and adventures, yet delivers graceful wisdom. Sciamma creates an intimate world where a litte magic can prosper.

Nelly (Joséphine Sanz) is at her grandmother's house helping her parents sort out the estate. Her mother (Nina Meurisse) grew up there. During her stay, Nelly plays on the same grounds as her mother and befriends another eight-year old girl, Marion (played by Josephine's sister, Gabrielle). Their bond becomes very close even during the brief time they have together.

As with Sciamma's PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE, the Director (who also penned the screenplay) doesn't employ a background score, choosing to let the natural sounds of wind and rain to create the mood. There are also are abundant silences. When a cheekily titled pop song (La Musique du Futur; lyrics by Sciamma) plays on the soundtrack it bursts with an extra force as it breaks the spell. Claire Mathon's cinematography is exquisite without ever drawing attention. The movie is efficiently edited, but, never feels rushed, the filmmaker confident that the backstory can easily be imagined without showing every beat.

PETITE MAMAN, like PORTRAIT is a story about women with the only male being the father (Stéphane Varupenne). The female characters represent three stages of motherhood: the past, the present and the future. With a run-time of 72 minutes, one might expect the simplicity to allow for only a superficial treatment of its themes, but, Sciamma turns it into a virtue. Life is short - embrace those around you while you can. The emotionally resonant final exchange consists of only two simple words, but entire lifetimes are implied. PETITE MAMAN is not only about sayign Au Revoir, but, also, Allo.

Jake Lipson

Senior HTF Member
Dec 21, 2002
Real Name
Jake Lipson
I saw this yesterday and thought it was terrific.

Portrait of a Lady On Fire was so good that I went in just because of Céline Sciamma's name. But I really appreciated that it was nothing like Portrait of a Lady On Fire. She demonstrates a real versatility in the kinds of stories she wants to tell, which is great.

Of course it was written well, but I don't think the film would have worked if the two kids in it weren't great. So much of the story rests on their shoulders. In that regard, Sciamma was lucky to find two very talented kids. She also directed them really well to get these performances from them. They're so honest and vulnerable and empathetic here. Obviously, I can't speak for them or their on set experience but it doesn't feel like they were intimidated by the camera at all. They feel natural in front of it, and that isn't always the case with child actors.

It is even more impressive considering that this was made during a pandemic with COVID protocols in place, which I'm sure makes the process more complicated even for the adults. I can't imagine being a kid at this age and being asked to carry a film like this while a deadly virus was sweeping the world. So, good on them.
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Senior HTF Member
Nov 7, 2006
Real Name
A very enjoyable movie both very different from Portrait of a Lady on Fire and definitely by the same director. This movie could have been done as a science fiction film but that wasn't the point of the movie. Kind of like how in Yesterday the movie doesn't deal with the reason nobody can remember the beatles.

Speaking of mothers day 'gift', NEON provided everyone with free popcorn who saw this movie.

Apparently the two girls are actually identical twins.
Movie information in first post provided by The Movie Database

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