Posted by SuperMario on 17 July 2016 with categories: Anime Reviews, Reviews by SuperMario, World Animation

It’s never easy to make a good family’s animation. For movies aim at adults, the filmmakers can easily get themselves loose, go crazy and the audience can still get it. But for kids, these movies might be one of the first movies they’ve ever seen and that’s a huge responsibility. They have to aware of children’s mindset all the time so that they both maintain kid’s interest throughout its screening time and make them invested to the story. That’s a reason why usually a good family movie or show tends to be either inspirational, educational, or packs an emotional punch for viewers of all ages. My Life as a Courgette falls neatly under the latter category. The film is adapted from a French children novel and the screenplay was written by the talented Celine Sciamma (she directed handful of movies and all of them focus on teenage girls and their transitions to adulthood, in other words, my kind of films). Though not as dark as the book, it’s a story from a kid’s point of view that have a very adult concept and tough subject matter.

The film recounts a few months in the life of Courgette, a nine-year-old boy, who accidently kills his alcoholic mom, then finds himself in an orphanage. His real name is Icare, but he insists of calling himself Courgette since it’s one of the very few things that he has left from his mother. Indeed, when he steps into the orphanage, the only things he keeps in his suitcase are an empty beer can from his mother, and a kite he made by himself. He doesn’t remember much about his father either, since the father left the family long time ago to chase “chicks”. There in the orphanage, he, still feels responsible for the death of his mother, encounters other kids who – like him – had experienced rough childhoods. They include the self-appointed leader (and a bit of a bully) Simon, and later Camille arriving by court order, who witnessed her parent’s murder-suicide. Rosy, whose mother was sent back to Africa. Ahmed, whose father was arrested for robbing a convenience store. Alice, whose father was arrested too. There is also a kind-heart policeman Raymond who later would be Couragette father’s figure as well.

If you feel I give a bit too much of a synopsis here, this is because it’s essential to the theme of the story. The best thing about the film, I have to say, lies in its sensitive writing. Within the first 10 minutes, the film successfully establishes a solid ground of all the mishaps, all the sadness these children have been gone through. Those moments feel so real and hold so much power. Life is not fair in the first place, and those children did nothing to deserve it. They all end up here, without the care of no one really, and all they have are each other. Being said that, those sad, downbeat times are just a facet of life, and learning how to live with it is the main theme of the film. The later part of My Life as a Courgette comes to more light-heart, sincere territory, but by then we’re already swept by the sadness that the whole movie feels more like a bittersweet experience.

Upon making this feature, the director Claude Barras insisted that he took extra attention to the eyes of the characters, and it shows in the movie, as the characters have big, expressive eyes. In many of the touching moments, those eyes help conveying a lot of emotion and we really see the sadness behind those eyes. The character designs, with big head, multicolor hairs and very thin body, further make those characters easy to root for, and will definitely catch the interest of the children. It helps of course that the kids were well-written and speak like a normal 9-year-old would speak. The stop-motion for the most part is serviceable; they serve the story well but nothing to stand out and truthfully judging from technical aspect there is nothing to recommend either. Then again this film is a children movie so I guess it serves its purposes.

If there is one thing that I could criticize the film for, that is its conflicts resolve way too quickly. There are two main conflicts of the film. The first conflict comes from Simon bullying Courgette, both because of his name and because he’s new. The second comes from the group’s attempt to win back Camille from her aunt who intends to use the girl for government-aided. I really think more time spending to raise the stakes would benefit the film better, especially with its relatively short running time (66 minutes to be exact). Because of its brief running time, only Courragette and two more characters (Simon, Camille) have a chance to develop, and boy! They certainly grow a lot during their brief time staying together in the orphanage.

In the end, My Life as a Couragette is the kind of film that the kids can enjoy but there’s a level for adults to appreciate as well. The bittersweet moments are all well-earned, and this is a feat to tell a sad, dark story without being too cynical or depressing. The film actually suggests the opposite, that unfortunate things happen everywhere, but learning to bounce back and stand up from those mishaps is something worth treasuring for.

Next post I will review my personal favorite anime feature film that came out last year in 2015, and it is NOT the one(s) you think it is. Stay tune!


10 Responses

  1. Avatar Max says:

    What has this site become ever since psgels left??? It’s an anime site thats been here since 2005, not a site for you to use as a platform to showcase how broad your tastes are. Have some respect for the site and the people who followed it for YEARS. LITERALLY TEN YEARS as a japanese anime blog

    I don’t care if you like other animation from anywhere else thats your preogative, but just leave it off this site. At least the game reviews are all japanese anime related but this is the wrong content for the wrong site and it confuses everyone

    • AidanAK47 AidanAK47 says:

      You sure are taking this awfully personally.
      If you can give me good solid reasoning as to how this is disrespectful and why it shouldn’t be here then I will ask Mario to stop writing about it. If you can’t and this is the result of “I don’t like it so get rid of it” then feel free to lodge a formal complaint and we shall take your opinion under advisement.

      • Avatar Max says:

        Okay maybe its not ‘disrespectful’ more like ‘misguided’ and not knowing how readership works. But ill defend my point that its disrespectful anyways because u accuse me of butthurt.

        1. Its alienates people who come here looking for what this site shows up as, an anime blog. Its the second thing that pops up when you search ‘anime blog’ on Google. If people come here expecting consistent seasonal animes but then occasionally see unrelated stuff like this its confusing. Basically be consistent, is as basic as i can put it.

        2. How its disrespectful: There are ppl who followed this site longer than u have and I bet not many even come here anymore because the content has strayed too much from what made this site so good. Im right arent I. Psgels was very consistent in not only his writing ethics but also the type of content he posted which is how he managed to build a loyal follow over the years. Having new writers isnt a problem but when they start to destroy what made this site special like psgels consistency, straightforward content etc, its disappointing to say the least.

        Also I didnt even mind the chinese animation post. At least those could of been a one time experiment for curiositys sake which is what psgels also did once every few years. But its got out of hand………

        • Avatar martin says:

          hmm, I do somewhat feel like Im the only one here who likes SuperMario’s World Animation posts. And this is coming from a long time visitor to this site (5-6 yrs)

          • Avatar Vonter says:

            No, I think it adds diversity, especially when there aren’t a lot of shows looking different in an anime season.

            I mean even people complained when Aku no Hana got reviews because it didn’t looked like an anime.

    • SuperMario SuperMario says:

      I’d like to speak for myself as well. But as I’m working atm, I’ll do it later today.

    • SuperMario SuperMario says:

      Alright, usually I don’t mind criticism, but you just simply wrote me off without considering the other sides here. I bet you hadn’t read my full review before you wrote the first comment, did you?
      Okay, to your complains, here my points:
      1) psgels himself did other animation review like myself did too (like his The Secret of Kells review), as such I don’t think I go off tracks as much as you said.
      2) Before I wrote this section about World Animation, I did ask around other readers in shoutbox for their opinions, just after they approved did I begin to write down the piece. This isn’t some random posts without the attention for viewers like you said it is.
      3) It isn’t like this websites begin to stray off from episodic reviews and anime content or something. If anything those game reviews and my world animation reviews are just something on the side. We still cover anime and episodic reviews as our main job. For Christ sake this season Aidan will cover 4 shows, myself 3 and Hellghast 2 shows. As far as I know we had never been this active for quite a long time. What more could you ask for?
      4)This comes straight to you, Max. As much as I respect psgels and the old readers who used to follow this site (his anime reviews were one of those main factors that made me become an anime fan to begin with); there are new wave of readers who help maintaining this blog while psgels was long absent here. All this to say I’m writing reviews now not to please just you – old readers – anymore, but to those new readers who didn’t even know who psgels were as well. They deserve to have a say on this as well. If any new readers and anybody else really who are discontent about my covering World Animation on this site, well then I am happy to stop writing these. Is it reasonable enough for you?
      On last note, this is just my personal whining so don’t take it into the arguments, but it’s not like I wrote those out on spot with no effort or to showcase how broad I am or anything. Damn I wrote it because I really want to write about it and I did put a lot of effort into it, so don’t you just dismiss it and judge this based on its cover without reading the content. At least have some respect for the effort. I don’t take you seriously if you don’t take this review seriously, being it in the right site or not.

      • Avatar Max says:

        What hostility. When did I write you off? I gave credit to your chinese animation posts because it’s different and interesting, but it doesn’t stray very from Japanese animation, which is what I’ve said this site is about. I’ll go through each of your points.

        1)”psgels did other stuff” oui Je comprends, I’ve been here awhile mon ami. So as a result I also know that Psgels once every few years post about something non-Japanese related material also wasn’t a god forsaken series unlike what you’re trying to do. Yes he did it once every few years but you cannot possibly conflate your guyses two situation. I’m sorry but you don’t know what you’re talking about on that.

        2)Great you got the approval of the three or four regulars on the chat box. Only few of them have even been on the site for longer than a few years so again I’m sorry to piss on your bonfire but that’s a terrible way to gauge whether or not a content is fit for an entire site with an old following. If you really cared about the readerbase (which consists of dozens of lurkers) you would’ve made an announcement poll/questionnaire whether or not people were interested. Maybe you don’t do it for attention, fair. But at least see that you made a half assed attempt at seeing whether or not people are interested in some French claymation. I personally am French and I frankly don’t want to see this next to a Re:Zero review.

        3)Why bring that up? I’ve never argued whether or not more content is appreciated, of course it is. What I’m getting frustrated is your lack of communication with your readers and dumping material irrelevant to the site and you writing ten animes this season can’t justify that, it’s more unrelated to what I’m saying. And game reviews. Of course It is something on the side. But it fits the context of the site. Even then with the first ever game review k-off asked if people were okay with seeing more. You were a poor communicator with your first world animation post And this is even considering I was FINE with ur chinese animation posts. Now that last sentence is indicative of your respect for this site and its long time supporters. Are you possibly telling me to shut the hell up and don’t complain because you’re doing me a favor by writing more posts? Because if you are then I have no words.

        4) New wave? You’re brand new to the site so how would you know whether or not your claim is true, that all of a sudden new readers are flocking to this site as opposed to people long familiar with the site. Wouldn’t it take an older user like AidanAk47 to know if that’s true? Also to continue you’re on a platform thats now been outdated and relegated to a select loyal fanbase ever since the rise in popularity of YouTube anime video bloggers. New people to anime won’t go here or some seedy anime blog regardless of how good this site is, theyll go to some poppy visually enticing and exciting platform like video blogging, even i see its not 2008 anymore. So no, you can’t give the middle finger to us on the grounds that old fans aren’t coming here because your stream of new people doesn’t exist.

        I did read your content and Ive said for the thousands time that I was okay with your chinese animation posts. You accuse me of judging your content based on the cover but you end up missing the point entirely, and whether or not I studied your post or not and here’s why.

        It boils down to this: You wouldn’t put a geometry textbook in the Manga section. Not because “OH DONT JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER U DONT KNOW WHAT ITS ABOUT SO THATS WHY I CRY WHEN YOU WONT ACCEPT THIS GEOMETRY TEXTBOOK IN THE WRONG AISLE” but rather people are smart enough to glance at the GENRE and see that it doesn’t freaking fit where it belongs. Got it??

        • Avatar saveload says:

          Why don’t you just write a list telling them what is prohibited on this site? Maybe a list for what has to be written too.

  2. Avatar Vonter says:

    I’ll actually prefer if the bloggers wrote about the things they like. It’s kind of boring reading what it feels it’s a self imposed review. I could read of other places that like certain types of anime. I mainly come here, because usually the posts talk more about what the anime or animation is looking to tell more than just spoiler talking and nagging about certain lines of dialogue.

    AidanAK47 – It’ll be boring to just read about the ugly Berserk CG visuals. I think it’s a very noticeable flaw since the beginning. If there’s no more to add I think other things could be more worth of analyzing. Methinks.

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