My Life as a Courgette is a wonderful French-Belgian stop-motion animated film that came out earlier this year after a strong festival run starting in Cannes last year. It even ended up being nominated for both the Golden Globe and Academy Award for best animated film, but lost to Zootopia. Of course, it’s rare for a non-Dreamworks or Disney or Pixar film to win, because they have all the money for campaigning. It also might have been too dark for some of the voters, even though its “darkness” is totally kid-friendly.
It’s about a boy who insists on being called Courgette who is sent to an orphanage after he accidentally kills his mother. He is soon befriended by one of the police officers who is basically his guardian figure. He initially struggles to make friends at the local orphanage, which he finds a strange place, but eventually things get better. All the kids are there for various horrific reasons, including in one case a suggestion of child abuse. Courgette soon also develops a crush on the Kafka-reading Camille. It’s a film about the resilience of children and creating a new family out of a messed-up situation.
The stop-motion is wonderful: it’s a mixture of the style of Charles M. Schulz and Henry Selick. It’s kind of baffling that they have never decided to do a Peanuts film in stop motion—now there is a missed opportunity if there ever was one! Unlike so many children’s films, it doesn’t play down to them and is willing to go places that other films of its ilk wouldn’t, which is important for childrens’ development. They may not get all the grown-up stuff, but that’s fine as they will understand in subsequent viewings. It has heart and soul, and is the perfect example of a film that would play equally well to an adult and child audience, with both getting the same enjoyment though maybe in slightly different ways.
My Life as a Courgette is only 66 minutes long, so it’s finished in a flash. The film was initially released in French, but naturally there is an English dub with some Hollywood actors, such as Nick Offerman, Will Forte and Ellen Page. I personally have no problem with the dubbing of animation but I do know there are some purists, and the disc includes both language options. The special features include an intro from Peter Lord of Aardman Films and all the usual making-of features.