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Old 04-23-2022, 03:35 PM
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29.Petite Maman (Celine Sciamma); grade: A

Imagine an entire film extending the mother-child sci-fi rhapsody that climaxes the radical coda to Spielberg's A.I. Artificial Intelligence--that's Sciamma's Petite Maman. Except in A.I., it was about the specifics of a mother and son (as acted out by a robot child). In Petite Mama, it is about three generations of mothers and daughters as dramatized by time travel. The time travel in Petite Mama requires no sci-fi explanation; instead, time travel is achieved through feeling (the autumnal season and color palette feel like a collective memory of childhood). This is as imaginative as the spiritual propositions in A.I. An awesome sense of childhood longing (abandonment) and regret (the finality of death) animates the encounter and friendship formed between an 8 year-old girl and the 8-year-old version of her mother. Played respectively by twins Josephine and Gabrielle Sanz (structuralists, have at it!), they live primal scenes (making crepes, playacting, outdoor adventures). Doing so, they discover each other's essences--one's aptitude for math compares to another's interest in language-- and explore each other's mysteries--"You were not the cause of my pain," child-mother explains. The time travel concept reaches a genre pinnacle when the mother asks to hear "the music of the future" which kicks off a boat trip of symbolic power. (As with A.I., the universal experiences mythologized here ultimately express a filmmaker's *personal* sexual-spiritual desire.) The doubled resolutions to Petite Maman attest to the accumulated power of the film's gentle approach. The purity Sciamma achieves here (like her script for the perfect animated film My Life as a Zucchini) establishes her in the legacy of Borzage, Clarence Brown, Renoir, Spielberg, but she can look them in the eyes with this film's farewell that resolves existential regret and reunion that answers desire's longing.
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Last edited by TrueFaith77; 04-23-2022 at 04:07 PM..
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