My Life as a Courgette – aka My Life as a Zucchini in other territories, depending on what you call the vegetable in question – centres around 9-year-old lad Icare (Erick Abbate), who refers to himself as Courgette, who is taken into care after his mother disappears following an altercation at home. He long since lost his father, too, so remembers him by making a kite and painting a picture of the man on it, along with a baby chicken on the other side because he remember his mum always telling him how his Dad ‘likes chicks’ (ahem).
With occasional visits from Raymond (Nick Offerman), the cop who brought him to the home – and who has his own story to tell along the way, things begin to turn around for the boy when he claps eyes on new girl Camille (Ness Krell), but before we get to that, the home already has five other residents – including Simon the bully, each with their individual characters and back stories, the latter of which are sometimes a bit disturbing.
My Life as a Courgette is a very charming film, with shades of Peanuts in there not only as they children get together and discuss the minutae of life, but also with the upbeat theme. Plus, it’s beautifully animated with stop-motion animation. On the one hand, it’s a shame it’s so short – at 67 minutes, but on the other, it never outstays its welcome, which cannot be said for certain summer action movies which run for at least twice as long!
Regular readers know I don’t normally go in for animated movies, but that’s generally the typical Hollywood/Pixar CGI borefests, whereas last year’s Kubo And The Two Strings turned out to be my second-best movie of the year and also won the BAFTA for Best Animated Feature Film.
Now that I’ve seen Courgette in the English language version, I think I’ll rewatch it in the original French, as both are on this disc.
The film is presented in the original 1.85:1 widescreen ratio and in 1080p high definition, and as you’d expect for a major new release, the print is sharp and colourful as you’d expect, and brings both the light and dark of Courgette’s world to the screen brilliantly.
The audio is in DTS HD-MA 5.1, and there was nothing major in the split-surround department which stood out for me, but it does have very charming music throughout, including a disco scene where you can rock out to Grauzone by Eisbär.
The extras are below and there’s some wonderful scoops here, in terms of elements which will never show up anywhere else, although they are very brief. The first two are my favourites:
- Introduction from Peter Lord (3:18): Does what it says on the tin, with words from the Aardman animator legend, himself.
- The Making of My Life as a Courgette (18:17): The director and animators take us through everything, including how it came out of a pilot which was a fake casting for Courgette to be in the film (which follows in the extras), plus how 3D printing was instead of using traditional clay modelling, and also shows how the French actors recorded all their lines whilst actually acting out the scenes, which I wasn’t expecting.
- Courgette’s Audition (1:28): In French with English subtitles, the young lad auditions to be in this film… yes, it sounds mad as cheese, but it’s great. I love how he doesn’t even like the name Courgette.
- Courgette, you’re a star! (5:24): A brief piece with clips from the film mixed in with the director talking about it while at the 2015 Prix Fondation Gan à la Diffusion festival. This repeats some information we’ve already learned in the main ‘making of’, but still serves as a nice addition. It’s the sort of thing you’d get on Sky Cinema inbetween films… if Sky was to show films as good as this one, that is.
- Festival D’Annecy (2:24): The film wins the public award at the festival, as well as the Cristal AWards for a feature film.
- Into Film Animation Workshop (3:16): School children making their own plasticine characters, having seen the film.
- Theatrical Trailer (1:32): In the original 1.85:1 theatrical ratio.
- Available on DVD from Thunderbird Releasing (7:13): Trailers for films suitasble for children: Phantom Boy, Zip & Zap And The Marble Gang, Long Way North – an animation that reminds of the the videogames Another World and Flashback, and Zarafa.
- Audio description: Does exactly what it says on the tin.
There’s only seven chapters on this disc. Regular readers of my reviews will know I prefer an average of one every 5 minutes, which given this movie’s short 67-minute running time, would make it 13. Subtitles are in English and the menu is a static image of the cover with the groovy theme music playing in the background.
Running time: 67 mins
Distributor: Thunderbird Releasing
Released: September 18th 2017
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
Widescreen: 1.85:1 (Canon EOS 5D Mark III)
Disc Format: BD50
Director: Claude Barras
Producers: Marc Bonny, Armelle Glorennec, Pauline Gygax, Max Karli, Kate Merkt and Michel Merkt
Screenplay: Céline Sciamma, Germano Zullo, Claude Barras and Morgan Navarro (based on the novel by Gilles Paris)
Music: Sophie Hunger
English language cast:
Courgette: Erick Abbate
Camille: Ness Krell
Simon: Romy Beckman
Ahmed: Barry Mitchell
Alice: Clara Young
Ms Paterson: Susanne Blakeslee
Mr Paul: Will Forte
Raymond: Nick Offerman
Rosy: Ellen Page
Aunt Ida: Amy Sedaris
Georgie: Finn Robbins
Beatrice: Olivia Bucknor
Courgette’s Mother: Susanne Blakeslee
French language cast:
Courgette: Gaspard Schlatter
Camille: Sixtine Murat
Simon: Paulin Jaccoud
Ahmed: Raul Ribera
Alice: Estelle Hennard
Mme Papineau: Monica Budde
Mr Paul: Adrien Barazzone
Raymond: Michel Vuillermoz
Rosy: Véronique Montel
Aunt Ida: Brigitte Rosset
Jujube: Elliot Sanchez
Béatrice: Lou Wick
Courgette’s Mother: Natacha Varga-Koutchoumov
Fillette: Romane Cretegny
Maman de la fillette: Evelyne Bouvier
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.