Whether it’s harder to be a child or a parent depends on which side of the divide you’re on, but Claude Barras’s stop-motion My Life as a Zucchini allies with the children, particularly those with horrible people as parents.
Having been abandoned by his skirt-chasing father, a young boy nicknamed Zucchini (Gaspard Schlatter) accidentally causes the death of his alcoholic mother (Natacha Koutchoumov) while defending himself from her latest drunken rage.
Kindly policeman Raymond (Michel Vuillermoz) places him into a foster home, where Zucchini eventually befriends bullying roommate Simon (Paulin Jaccoud) and begins a burgeoning romance with fellow newcomer Camille (Sixtine Murat), all while discovering that he’s not alone in bearing scars both literal and figurative from birth parents. Though never sentimental, the picture is hopeful about breaking the cycle of violence; as tragic as his circumstances are, Zucchini realizes that had his mother lived, he might have also grown into an adult who guzzles beer and takes out his anger on children.
Adapted from a French y.a. novel whose title translates as Autobiography of a Zucchini, the even glibber My Life as a Zucchini is an unfortunate title for a movie that braves such dark emotional territory. Then again, The 400 Blows is no great shakes, either.
My Life as a Zucchini
Directed by Claude Barras
Opens February 24, Landmark Sunshine