Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Movie with Abe: My Life as a Zucchini

My Life as a Zucchini
Directed by Claude Barras
To be released February 24, 2017

The Oscar category for Best Animated Feature is a relatively recent addition to the annual awards, marking its sixteenth year of existence in 2016. Overall, it has included many Disney and Pixar efforts as well as other American productions. Most years, there are one or two foreign inclusions, like something from Studio Ghibli, which usually tend to skew towards a more mature audience even if they are still kid-friendly. And then there are those strong, intriguing picks that really stand out from the pack which might feature children as their protagonists but are hardly meant for the younger viewer.

Zucchini is the chosen nickname of Icare, a young boy who lives at home with his drunk mother. When the tower he has built in the attic with his mother’s used beer cans tumbles and catches the attention of his irate mother, he panics and slams the door to the attic, sending his mother falling down the stairs. Unable to fully comprehend that she has died, Zucchini is placed in an orphanage, where he meets other children who have been victims of negligent or abusive parents, including a bully named Simon and a girl named Camille who immediately becomes the object of his affection.

“My Life as a Zucchini” runs just seventy minutes, yet it manages to tell an extremely compelling, affecting story in that time. Its use of stop-motion animation serves to highlight the emotions its children wear on their faces and in their expressions due to the tough things that they have had to endure over the course of their short lives. Though it deals with such a complex, adult topic, the plot of this film is relatively simple and straightforward, offering a refreshingly pure take on innocence and how children can grow up in an incredible way when faced with adverse circumstances.

More than anything, this is a sweet love story, with abusive adults and the real world as the main threats to the happiness that they might enjoy. They’re children, of course, and therefore whatever future they have is completely unknown and uncertain, but, for the time being, it’s all that they have. This may not be a good film for children to watch, but it is a sweet, wonderful experience for those up to dealing with the subject matter. This French-Swiss film isn’t likely to win the Oscar in a few weeks, but it would be a truly fantastic choice.


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