My Life as a Courgette is set to release in cinemas on 5 May
I have never cared so much about a vegetable. My Life as a Courgette hit the Glasgow Film Festival as one of the few films screening at the CCA suitable for children. Characterised by detailed design and vibrant colours, the stop motion animation has won a myriad of film festival prizes, and rightly so.
My Life as a Courgette follows the story of a young boy, affectionately named Courgette, who is transferred to an orphanage after accidentally killing his alcoholic mother. It is a film for children made with the care and grace of an adult’s arthouse flick.
The film is incredibly candid; it refuses to shy away from tough issues that you wouldn’t normally expect from a children’s film, but doesn’t over-emphasise the seriousness. The death of Courgette’s mother, other parents who will not visit their children, and discussions of sex, death, and love, are given exactly the emphasis that a child would give. They are acknowledged as awful and difficult, and the children’s reactions are detailed and emotive, but the issues themselves are not overegged. The audience knows losing your parents is hard and the film respects their ability to interpret that.
The school group and other children in the audience had incredible reactions: laughing, joking, and occasionally succumbing to complete solemnity. As each character was fleshed out and their stories and pasts revealed, the entirety of the audience reacted physically, gasping, sniffling or giggling, clearly immersed in the story. Each child in the orphanage was written with surprising depth and care, and I was moved by each of their traumas, but also their dreams. It made a delightful contrast to a majority of films for children that rarely bother to develop more than one or two characters.
My Life As a Courgette is a story of survival, hardship, and love, which prioritises the choices made by the children, and affords them an agency that is often overlooked in children’s cinema, and by society. As one of the few children’s films screened by GFF, it was an ode to responsible and sensitive filmmaking for children, the importance of which cannot be overestimated. Kids who get to see films like My Life As a Courgette will grow up with a much more solid sense of their agency and ability than those who were only exposed to Minions 3, and I suspect, will make much better filmmakers.