Film review: French filmmaker Céline Sciamma returns with “Petite Maman”

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French filmmaker Céline Sciamma had her work cut out for her own masterpiece; 2019 Portrait of a lady on fire was one of the most sultry, romantic, and heartbreaking movies in recent memory (not to mention beautiful to watch, rich in jewel tones and period costumes). To its credit, Sciamma doesn’t try to outdo itself with Little mom, a small-scale (but not small-hearted) production about mothers, daughters, heartbreak and love. Instead, she deftly and beautifully shifts her focus to something completely different but equally moving.

Located in the present, Little mom follows young Nelly (Joséphine Sanz), who has just lost her maternal grandmother. She accompanies her parents, known only as mom and dad (respectively Nina Meurisse and Stéphane Varupenne), to the grandmother’s house where they will get down to sifting through the business, the memories and the minutiae of daily life. to close the present. clear out the house and begin the process of moving on. Little Nelly is a bit at sea with it all, aware of the dark nature of the proceedings but not quite sure how to be there for a mother who is clearly grieving and distant.

Sciamma injects captivating magic into the proceedings as Nelly sets off to explore the woods around the house where her mother grew up; there she meets Marion (Joséphine’s real twin sister, Gabrielle), a girl seemingly from another time but surprisingly familiar nonetheless. The two young actresses constantly engage, their soft and fragile emotions illuminating their common traits with subtlety and sincerity. Lasting only 72 minutes, Little mom still manages to create an unmistakable sense of warmth and understanding, quietly asserting itself as an insightful exploration of the unique relationships between mothers and daughters.

Little mom now playing in theaters.

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