Céline Sciamma’s 2021 film ‘Petite Maman’ which got us quite excited after her successful previous movie ‘Portrait of a Lady on Fire’, is here with the heartwarming story of an 8-year-old girl.
The story of little Nelly, who is on the road with her parents after her grandmother’s death to empty her house, in fact tells us the story of the child-parent relationship and the barriers between them in a very soft language.
The film, in which people of all ages will feel many emotions while watching, shows us the experiences of Nelly, who lost her grandmother without the opportunity to say goodbye, in 72 minutes.
Sciamma uses natural tones and environments as much as possible for the movie, which includes scenes that are so ‘real’ taht often saddens us while watching it. The director, who does not leave the eye level of our 8-year-old characters in the use of the camera, gives the role of the little freind to Nelly (Joséphine Sanz)’s real-life twin Gabrielle Sanz, for the sake of the harmony and similarity of the characters.
With the harmony between the two, the organic realitionship of the two’s acting and reactions, we can say that the twins share equal parts with the director in the success of the film.
Our 8-year-old character’s mother, Marion, is separated from her family while experiencing her own internal reckoning after the death of her mother. Marion’s inner confrontation is the sublayer of the story. Nelly, who is trying to take care of herself in the whole process, meets a girl her own age while walking in the forest.
The sweet story between these two continues as they get closer to each other and establish a very pure friendship. While watching the story through teh eyes of Sciamma, who tells the importance of understanding our loved ones by combining them with the purest human form, we get a slight Miyazaki hints. The fact that the story is told in a very real, natural and spontaneous flow also gives you a relaxing sense.
Later in the movie, she invites her friend Nelly to her house, and from this point on, the flow of the story focuses entirely between these two. There is an unforeseen bond between our characters, whom we see cook together and play silly games. One day out of nowhere Nelly gives a secret to Marion, who has the same name as Nelly’s mother; little Marion is actually Nelly’s mother’s childhood version.
In the scene where Nelly, who is quite distant with her mother, hugs her father so tight that we can read in between the lines that how rarely this closeness happens with her father. Nelly, who started to spend time with Marion frequently, actually makes friends with ‘her very own mother’ at her own age and tries to understand her more genuinely. Later in the movie Nelly is invited to little Marion’s house. At that point we understand that she actually met Marion’s mother, that is, in fact, her deceased grandmother’s adolescense. The sweetest part of the movie is that Nelly is a child who is aware of everything that’s happening around, and tries to make use of this miracle as much as possible.
Although she did not get the chance to establish a close relationship with both his mother and grandmother, our main character now has the opportunity to watch Marion and her grandmother’s experiences and where they came from. When it’s time to go home, her father, who says that she can meet little Marion again some other time our little hero responds saying “Something like this will never happen again”.
It is actually possible to call this earthly story a ‘What If’ story. To raise your mood along with the naturalness and sincerity of Nelly’s story, we invite you to check out our playlist dedicated to Petite Maman.