My Life as a Courgette Review
So, three months ago I had the privilege of watching a little stop motion film from France about a small boy living in an orphanage. It was a tale that was highly affecting and surprising, and I found myself raving about it in a review. That film was My Life as a Courgette, and it is now going to be available on Blu-ray this month. Visiting the children's home for the second time, I'm wondering whether my opinions have changed, and what Thunderbird Releasing has done to encourage you to take these parentless kids home with you on release.
The plot of the film focusses on a nine-year-old boy called Icare, better known as Courgette. He lives with his alcoholic mother in a small terraced house following his father's departure for another woman. One day Courgette is making a tower out of his mother’s beer cans, which is knocked over. Angered by the noise and mess, Courgette's mother storms up to Icare's room ready to beat him black and blue. Following an accident, he is taken to a children's home where he meets other troubled children. There, he must face a series of triumphs and tragedies with his new friends in his new home.
Rereading my review, my opinions of My Life as a Courgette have not changed for the worse, rather I think I now appreciate it more. The story is adapted from the book Autobigraphie d'une Courgette by Gilles Paris, and it is as emotionally powerful as any Disney film containing a parental death. The story is a rollercoaster full of tooth-achingly sweet highs and heart-breaking lows that seemed to hit harder a second time. However, what it does that I didn't notice the first time around was that it hides the most devastating revelations in allusion and character behaviour. This film is marketed as a comedy and there are some funny scenes but be warned lurking underneath this hipper facade is something with emotional depths that can swallow you whole.
I think the most brilliant thing about this film is that it lulls you into a false sense of security with a great visual aesthetic. It looks like a children’s book, or rather it looks like it was drawn by a child. The characters have stylistically large heads, thin bendy arms and wide eyes. However, despite the slightly uncanny and unrealistic design of these children you are almost instantly drawn into their world with the smallest movement. It is a testament to the animators that they are able to convey a wide variety of very powerful emotions with the very simple character design. All of this looks pristine on Blu-ray, and in 1080p you can almost reach out and touch this very tactile looking film.
When talking about the voice cast with a film like My Life as a Courgette you are discussing two casts, the original French language cast and the English language one. Both are great, the French and American kids are wonderful and able to tackle these rather weighty issues with a naturalism that is outstanding. The adults also do a good job providing a certain grounding to proceedings and the chemistry between everyone is just adorable. I could mention the star-studded American cast, but it would make this review that much longer if I mention each individual name by name. What I can say is that there is surprising restraint on the actors, they let the story take centre stage, and it isn't until you see the credits roll by that you notice just who was in the film. Whichever track you choose it will sound amazing due to the stunning work done by Thunderbird in making the disc.
Outside of the film, My Life as a Courgette is packaged really well, the menus are easy to understand, they have clear subtitles and a wonderfully whimsical home menu filled with extras. Oh boy, does this film have extras. It includes making-of documentaries, test footage, and an introduction by co-founder of Aardman Films, Peter Lord. So even though the film itself only runs slightly more than an hour there is still some great extra content that makes watching and rewatching this film so rewarding and enjoyable.
After three months, my opinions of My Life as a Courgette have not really changed, this is still a great film for fans of animation. Though the film is only 65 minutes in length, it is a must watch for anyone looking for a children's film with an emotional maturity that eclipses most other fare outside of Pixar and some of Disney's projects. Courgette's story is one that will stay with you and the breadth of characters in his world are ones that you will want to revisit time and again. The film looks absolutely wonderful on Blu-ray, with crisp visuals that present no visible errors to detract from such a compelling story.