My Life as a Zucchini (Ma vie de courgette) (2016)

I truly, truly hope that when “My Life as a Zucchini” comes to the states that people to come to see it. I want people to seek it out, I want people to take their families, and I want everyone to tell others about what is easily one of the best animated movies I’ve ever seen. “My Life as a Zucchini” is simple and it’s short, but its rich in human themes, and complex characters that you’ll fall in love with. Rest assured I fell in love with every single character, and understood even the antagonists. “My Life as a Zucchini” isn’t a film that shoehorns in a villain. It’s merely a slice of life about the pitfalls and emotional turmoil that comes with being an orphan in a very cruel, and often difficult world.

The characters in the film may never understand why they ended up at the orphanage they’re in, and hopefully they never will. Though many characters in the film, including Simon, the arguable head of his group knows the stories of every child in his home, he has no real grasp on the severity of their issues. These kids are damaged and broken, and may take years to heal, and find their ways in the world. Director Claude Barras implies the damage of these children through subtle bandages and stitching within their character models, while also depicting very realistic personality traits that make them victims of the adults that destroyed every essence of innocence they once owned. We meet young “Zucchini” a very alienated boy who hides in his attic bedroom drawing all day and flying kites.

After an accident, his violent alcoholic mother is accidentally killed, leaving him without parents. With the help of kind officer Raymond, Zucchini is taken to a group home where he’s forced to adapt to a small group of children. Without a single relative in the world, Zucchini is forced to deal with the normal obstacles of childhood including blooming adolescence, bullies, and the complications that life can bring children time and time again. The situation is made more difficult when new orphan Camille quickly ingratiates herself in the group home, and garners the affection of Zucchini. “My Life as a Zucchini” seeks to take a look in to the hopelessly difficult life many children face in a world that can often be violent, and mean, and force them to grow up very quickly.

Director Barras is bold enough to confront very difficult themes time again, even featuring a moment where the kids discuss the concept of sex with one another in terminology they understand. Through and through “My Life as a Zucchini” speaks to its target audience at eye level, providing a firm, beautiful understanding of how tough it is to be a child. Barras unfolds an incredibly touching and emotional tale about lost children, the bond between friends, and how family can be built literally anywhere.

Oscar Nominated and In Select Theaters Starting February 24th; Most theaters will be showing both language versions; please check local listings for details.