Petite Maman: Film Review


I’m quite a late newcomer to the Celine Sciamma fan club. I liked Portrait of a Lady on Fire a lot but didn’t rave about it quite as much as the majority – and now Petite Maman has solidified my position as a fan because it is absolutely wonderful.

The film follows eight-year-old Nelly (Josephine Sanz) while she stays at her mother’s childhood home with her parents (Nina Meurisse and Stephane Varupenne) to help them clear it out following the death of her grandmother. While exploring the surrounding woodlands, Nelly meets a strangely familiar girl named Marion (Gabrielle Sanz) and her new friend helps her come to terms with her loss.

I sometimes find it hard to review films that are amazing because I don’t have much else to say. In the case of Petite Maman, I can basically sum up my feelings in a sentence of adjectives such as delightful, gorgeous, wholesome, heartwarming, uplifting, feel-good, and lovely. I could basically end my review here! I’m just kidding… but you get the idea, you don’t really need to know any more of my opinions, just go and watch it.

What’s so impressive about Petite Maman is that it tells this fantastical time-travel story yet it feels so grounded, intimate and real. What you’re watching feels totally normal, even though it’s actually a wild concept. Sciamma handles the story in an understated and relaxed manner and most of the time we are just watching the girls play – and their activities are a joy to watch, such as their chaotic pancake making and their serious grown-up play, in which they portray an inspector and a countess.

It’s hard to fully articulate how amazing the Sanz twins are. Top-tier child actors, that’s for sure. Josephine leads the film with such ease, it feels so effortless and natural, like she’s not really acting at all. Gabrielle is just as good in the supporting role and their natural sisterly bond works wonders for the relationship between them. They are stars and I can’t wait to see what they do next.

If this gushing review isn’t enough to convince you to see this film then I haven’t done my job very well. Just take my word for it and go check it out!

In cinemas Friday 19th November and on MUBI from 4 February 2022

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.