Little Mom | Small story, big movie ★★★★

After the triumph around the world of Portrait of the burning girlCéline Sciamma has chosen to return to a more reduced cinema and to recurring themes in her work.

Posted at 9:30am

Marc Andre Lussier

Marc Andre Lussier
The press

This ability to conjure up the mysteries of childhood with subtlety and accuracy is beyond our credit tomboybut also the scenario of My zucchini lifean animated film in which “poqué” children were brought together to learn solidarity together offers a truly remarkable film here.

The heroine of Little mom is Nelly (Joséphine Sanz), an 8-year-old girl. After her grandmother has just died, Nelly first makes the rounds of the residents with whom she lived in a home to say goodbye to them, so to speak on behalf of the deceased. The filmmaker also very naturally evokes the kind of bond that binds the little girl to her grieving mother (Nina Meurisse), while the latter allows herself to be fed at the wheel of the car by a small hand, that of Nelly, who is sitting behind. The scene ends with a simple and tender hug, a bit as if the little girl had given herself a mission to protect her mother from the pain she is suffering.


Josephine Sanz and Gabrielle Sanz in Little moma film written and directed by Céline Sciamma

Accompanied by her parents, who had to go to the deceased grandmother’s house to take inventory, Nelly spots a children’s hut under construction nearby and is invited by a little girl of the same age to complete it. From then on, a mirror effect takes place, which Céline Sciamma uses to create a dialogue between Nelly and her mother. The girl of the same age, interpreted by Gabrielle Sanz (twin of Josephine), is called Marion. She experiences exactly what Nelly’s mother, also called Marion, experienced in her childhood.


A scene from Petite Maman, a film written and directed by Céline Sciamma.

Very simple, but how rich

This film, which takes the form of a fantastic story in which there is a dialogue between a mother and a daughter who are in the same stage of life, is quite simple, but how rich. The more “supernatural” aspect blends harmoniously into a story constructed at the height of a child. With infinite tenderness, Céline Sciamma approaches the theme of grief and reconstruction through a story stripped of all affection. In this world where time boundaries fall, the story also lives on whatever Céline Sciamma proposes.

Without superfluous effects, the filmmaker, who shot her film in the places of her own childhood, resonates with the magic that can happen when the first years of life are lived in a natural environment that is larger than oneself. She also mentions this need to understand the structure of their own family history.

Visually magnificent, performed by admirably staged actors, Little mom is the work of an accomplished filmmaker with a unique style. Although short (just under 72 minutes), this feature film is no less magnificent.

Launched at the Berlin Festival 2021, where a first version of this text was published, Little mom shows now.


Little mom


Little mom

Celine Sciamma

With Josephine Sanz, Gabrielle Sanz, Nina Meurisse

1:12 a.m

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