Petite Maman is a movie about a girl (Nelly) who has just lost her grandmother and is helping her parents clean out her mother’s childhood home. She explores the house and the surrounding woods. One day she meets a girl (Marion) her same age building a treehouse. They become friends and have all sorts of adventures together.
As their relationship develops, Nelly realises that Marion is actually her mother who has travelled from the past to be with her. This is a surprise to both of them and themes of family, loss, and friendship are explored as they play together. The two actors playing the children are twins in real life and they have great chemistry together. They are both very natural and believable in their roles. Their dialogue often feels improvised and their scenes together are some of the best in the movie.
The element of time travel is so subtle it’s almost unnoticeable. There are no special effects, no flashy sequences; just a few small, everyday things that seem out of place. This makes the story more believable and allows the focus to remain on the relationship between Nelly and Marion.
My biggest problem with the movie is the pacing. It’s a bit slow and meandering in the first half, which made it hard for me to stay interested. However, the second half is much better and the last few scenes are particularly emotional and powerful. Overall, Petite Maman is a moving and thought-provoking film with great performances from its two young leads.
(In cinemas in Australia – check your movie guide for your local show times.)