Starring: Joséphine Sanz, Gabrielle Sanz, Stéphane Varupenne
Director: Céline Sciamma
Running Time: 72 mins
Petite Maman is a French film about a young girl who, while helping to clear the home of her recently-deceased grandmother, encounters another girl while playing in the nearby woods.
Worlds away from the electrifying thrills of director Céline Sciamma’s Portrait Of A Lady On Fire, Petite Maman is a sweet, very short watch, albeit one that doesn’t quite have the depth to prove a gripping experience throughout.
An innocent childhood fable with a dash of coming-of-age drama, Petite Maman keeps things very simple throughout, with a calmly-executed bit of fantasy that makes for an interesting thinking exercise on the nature of mother-daughter relationships.
In the lead roles are Joséphine and Gabrielle Sanz, both of whom stand up well in the slow-moving, calming atmosphere of this movie, with a convincingly strong bond, albeit never quite having the on-screen energy to make you want to really connect with their characters beyond surface-level intrigue.
And that’s one of the major problems with Petite Maman. It’s a sweet enough movie, but it comes off as a rather superficial affair, with a generally simplistic plot that doesn’t have the thematic depth to match its quiet, reflective tone and patient pacing.
As such, despite its ultra-short runtime – at barely more than an hour – the film can feel a little dull, with much of the central drama completed within the first act and a half anyway.
Unlike Portrait Of A Lady On Fire, which used minimal dialogue, slow pacing and lots of eye-glancing to good effect in building tension, there’s not all that much going on in Petite Maman beneath the surface, and as such it’s not a film that really stands out as a masterpiece of intimate drama. So, that’s why I’m giving Petite Maman a 7.1 overall.