Petite Maman

Petite Maman ★★★★½

Writer/director Céline Sciamma's followup to the excellent Portrait of a Lady on Fire focuses, yet again, on the enduring ethereal power of female relationships, albeit of a very different kind this time around.

It's a low-key piece but with a tangible hint of the fantastical (clearly inspired by Hayao Miyazaki's My Neighbor Totoro) as a young girl goes through the process of recently losing her grandmother and feeling her own mother's consequent sadness. She discovers a young girl - uncannily similar to herself - playing in the woods outside of grandmother's former rural home.

There's a surprise twist that occurs halfway through. However, the film as a whole is less about the story and more about sensing and feeling. The warm autumnal hues of the visuals evoke a bittersweet sense of childhood nostalgia. The camaraderie between the two girls (played by real-life twin sisters Joséphine and Gabrielle Sanz) is both joyous and spider-web delicate - a revelatory but necessarily transient opportunity for personal reflection.

By the end, I was almost in tears but never felt remotely depressed. I felt truly enlightened in a way that is rare in cinema.

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