Petite Maman

Petite Maman ★★★★

AFI Fest 2021: Movie #7

“I’m already thinking about you.”

It’s a very simple story, but the slow way it reveals itself to be something more makes it truly captivating. It’s all good as it’s happening, but as you understand more and think back, it gets even better. I admire how Sciamma takes her time in a film so short, cutting out all the fat to spend the most time in subtlety. It’s such a gentle way to tell a story that allows the emotion to slowly build, rather than being jarring in its arrival. By the end, I knew these characters and their needs so well despite how few words they shared.

I love what this film offered about the idea of parenthood. I wouldn’t call it commentary directly, as it’s too subtle for that, but I do feel that it gifts its audience with a certain set of observations. Parents emotions affect their children’s’, not only in how the child reacts but in what new anxieties a parent’s state of mind can create. It can be so easy for a child to think everything their parent experiences is because of them, but the truth this film tells us is that emotions are always our own unless we choose to share them. It’s an unconventional mother-daughter story under the guise of a simplistic childhood tale, and it’s that unique blend that makes this work so well.

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