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My Life as a Zucchini (Ma vie de Courgette) [2016] is a French-Swiss animated feature that chronicles the adventures of young Zucchini after he is placed in a foster home with other children with troubled pasts. It is here that he discovers new friendships, his first love, and a stronger sense of family.

Kid’s Eye View: From the get-go, the audience is by Zucchini’s side as he transitions from his lonely, troubled home life to the initially intimidating foster home. While he doesn’t necessarily receive a warm welcome from the other youths at first, they form a powerful connection spurred by their mutual desire to belong and shared familial hardships. What ensues is an evocatively endearing story that captures the very essence of childhood. Light-hearted camaraderie materializes so naturally among the children, with no pieces of dialogue sounding out of place or not befitting the situation. It’s like watching several mismatched pieces join together to complete one beautiful puzzle. The authenticity is all too poignant.

It’s the Hard Knock Life: Of course, laughter comes not without tears. My Life as a Zucchini does not gloss over the harsh realities faced by the film’s protagonists, and foster youths in the real world for that matter. Zucchini’s mother is obviously a neglectful alcoholic, his love interest Camille has a sadness in her eyes from her parents’ grisly fates, a shy blonde girl named Alice is implied to have been sexually assaulted by her father, etc. It’s not the typical subject matter to be found in an animated film about children, and that is precisely why the movie is so intelligently aware of the story it wanted to tell without sugar-coating the content. Abuse, mental illness, and addiction exist and affect those most vulnerable in a very impactful way, and My Life as a Zucchini succeeds in revealing that truth.

A Labor of Love: It’s rare to come across an animated film these days that isn’t slicked over with the all too familiar CGI art style. Stop motion animation, known to be an admirable yet time-consuming medium, is visually impressive and adds a definitive texture to a film, as opposed to an animated feature created only digitally. Four years were needed to craft the individual figures, facial expressions, and backgrounds for My Life as a Zucchini, and the effort was indeed worth it. The image of children sledding down a snow-covered slope or a car lurching to life on a city street is an incredible feat when accomplished using this very detail-oriented method. Additionally, the color scheme used for the characters and scenery is reminiscent of a child’s crayon drawing—providing an even more distinct production style. 

 

As heartbreaking as it is heartwarming, My Life as a Zucchini will
captivate you with its youthful trappings of utter brilliance.

My Life as a Zucchini
5.0Overall Score
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