“Little Mum”, a journey through childhood time

Little mom ***

by Céline Sciamma

French film, 1 h 12

A house, the surrounding forest and two little girls who are building a cabin: Céline Sciamma does not need more to build in just 1 h 12 a little jewel of purity and delicacy. The director of birth of octopuses and of Tomboy is never as convincing as when it turns at the height of children. After Portrait of the girl on fire, which seemed to mark a new artistic ambition in her career, here she is back, with this small intimate film, to her first love, and that’s good!

→ CRITICAL. “Portrait of the girl on fire”. The painter and her model

On a minimalist subject – a young woman, Marion, and her 8-year-old granddaughter come to clear the house of the recently deceased grandmother -, she unfolds with simplicity a story that looks like a fairy tale. And if she adds a pinch of the fantastic, it is to better draw us into the memories of childhood, this period so decisive in the construction of the adults that we will be and which we never quite manage to get rid of.

Confronted with the unfathomable sadness of Marion (Nina Meurisse), Nelly (Joséphine Sanz), her daughter, seeks answers but comes up against the silence of adults. “You never talk about when you were kids. You never say real stuff ”, she reproaches her father (Stéphane Varupenne) who came to help them pack the last boxes.

Behind his apparent stripping, a concentrate of emotions and sensations

In the surrounding woods, she hopes to find the cabin that her mother built there as a child, and about which she has told her so often. Instead, she meets a little girl of her age who looks strangely like her, is called Marion (Gabrielle Sanz) and asks her to help her build a cabin … Not at all disturbed by the coincidence, Nelly agrees to become her. friend and set off on a temporal journey to meet her “little mother”.

→ READ. The only child, a child like the others?

Which children were our parents? Would we be better able to understand them if we had known them at this time of their life with their hopes and their sorrows? Are we doomed to be like them? So questions Céline Sciamma in this film intended for the whole family which evokes with extreme sensitivity mourning, transmission between mothers and daughters, but also the loneliness of only children. No emphasis or artifice for the filmmaker to navigate between realism and dreamlike.

Claire Mathon’s beautiful photograph is enough to make the autumnal forest a landscape with a somewhat strange atmosphere, a wallpaper pattern a time machine, or a simple shadow on a wall, transforming into wolf in the evening, the symbol of our childish terrors. Behind the apparent stripping of the film hide all the unspoken of childhood, those things that we understand instinctively without being able to formulate them, a concentrate of sensations and emotions which will then constitute the fabric of our memories.


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