London Film Festival: Petite Maman (2021)

Director: Céline Sciamma

Running Time: 72 Minutes

Starring: Joséphine Sanz, Gabrielle Sanz, Nina Meurisse, Stéphane Varupenne, Margo Abascal

With a filmography brilliantly exploring themes such as gender and sexual identity, Céline Sciamma takes a different tactic for her latest work and approaches grief through pint-sized eyes. In the aftermath of her grandmother's death, Nelly (Joséphine Sanz) helps her parents clean out her mother's childhood home. Using the chance to explore the house and the surroundings woods, she befriends a girl named Marion (Gabrielle Sanz) who's building a treehouse.

While her mother revisits old memories by clearing out the vacant house, Nelly uses the opportunity to explore, discovering things about her family and the nature of growing up. Joséphine Sanz adorably captures the inquisitive nature of this character, joyfully playing while saddened she never gave one final goodbye to her grandmother and meant it.

Acting opposite Sanz is her real-life twin-sister, which makes sense when the pair have such a charming dynamic on-screen. There's clear enjoyment in their time shared, as it becomes joyous to witness these friends innocently playing, revelling in the fun of writing their own screenplay and acting it out. Alongside these heartwarming scenes are moments of the children trying to grapple larger topics, as adult issues are discussed through a child's perspective.

Another brilliant addition to an impressive filmography, Sciamma utilises a fantastical world to tenderly explore themes of grief and growing up. What's left is a heartfelt feature that's perfectly performed, and tightly packed within a slender runtime.

Petite Maman is available in UK cinemas from November 19th