Petite Maman (U)
Nelly, an 8-year-old girl, has just lost her beloved grandmother and is helping her parents clean out her mother’s childhood home. One day, her mom abruptly leaves, and Nelly meets a girl her age as she’s building a tree house in the woods.
Céline Sciamma’s Petite Maman might at first appear dwarfed by her last title, Portrait of a Lady of Fire. But come closer – and this is a film that beckons like a forest path – and there is much that is similar.
There’s the luminosity of the filmmaking – an introvert radiance made extrovert by the unshakeable assurance of Claire Mathon’s camerawork and Sciamma’s own directorial certitude. And there’s a kinship between the stories, one about romantic love, the other about a mother-daughter bond. Both are really about the beautiful tragedy of love, even when fully reciprocated: that you can never truly know anyone,
however much you care for them. Portrait, more epic though it was, hinged on the tiny revelation of a finger marking a significant place in a book, and Petite Maman may yet turn out to be the page 28 in the ongoing novel of Sciamma’s career. A small and perfectly formed film.
Jessica Kiang, Sight and Sound.
Date and Venue To Be Announced