Céline Sciamma paints a beautiful, painful portrait of the mother-daughter bond in her film Petite Maman.

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Céline Sciamma paints a beautiful, painful portrait of the mother-daughter bond in her film Petite Maman.

A quiet but powerful tale of grief, family love, and the mysterious world of childhood friendship from the director of Portrait of a Lady on Fire.

Petite Maman is a quiet, slender tale from Portrait of a Lady on Fire director Céline Sciamma that avoids swooping scores and dramatic scenes.

This short film is about the love and spiritual closeness that runs through the bloodline of a grandmother, a mother, and a young daughter.

Nelly (Joséphine Sanz), a sweet and inquisitive eight-year-old, is that daughter.

Marion (Nina Meurisse), her mother, is mourning the recent loss of her own mother, and a pall of sadness hangs over her.

Even Nelly notices and offers her mother a box of juice from the back seat as they drive to her childhood home.

Nelly and her mother begin the arduous task of cleaning up the house, a lovely autumnal nook somewhere in the French countryside with a large, wooded backyard, with the help of her papa.

Sciamma’s film depicts a twilight fantasy world of modern-day France, in which eight-year-olds happily play outside rather than on iPads and Nintendos.

Nelly’s playtime is captured at an unusual distance by Sciamma, who avoids any sentimental touches; she’s just a child playing outside in her blue winter coat, rummaging through the dead leaves for interesting finds and wandering the copse in search of her mother’s old tree-house.

Nelly, as an only child, has a sense of solitude; when she discovers an old game of paddle-ball in the house, she tells her father, “It’s a game you play by yourself.” When you’re on your own, your parents have to be your friends as well.

Nelly’s mother abruptly leaves the house one morning, unable to bear the weight of grief for her own mother.

Something strange happens while she’s gone: a young girl who looks exactly like Nelly – a doppelgänger, in fact (Gabrielle Sanz, the actress’s twin in real life) – appears on the scene.

Marion is the name given by the girl.

They become fast friends, gently playing, sharing secrets, and crunching through the woods together.

Marion’s house is strangely similar to Nelly’s, and her mother, who walks with a cane, has the same bone disease as Nelly’s grandmother.

Is she, however, a real one?

News summary from Infosurhoy in the United Kingdom.

Petite Maman is a wonderful, painful portrait of the mother-daughter bond painted by Céline Sciamma.

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Petite Maman, review: Céline Sciamma paints a wonderful, painful portrait of the mother-daughter bond

Petite Maman MUBI Film still Provided by jenny.carroll@organic-publicity.com

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