Sometimes you can watch a movie and know that you’re going to cry at some point. While there are no moments that require a complete breakdown into tears, there’s no denying that there are plenty of tear-jerking moments in My Life as a Zucchini. The movie is a French/Swiss coming of age stop-motion animated film about a young boy named Zucchini. He undergoes a tragedy which forces him to move into a foster home. While there he meets a collection of interesting characters who have similar tragic backgrounds.
The story is his growth from feeling isolated due to his circumstances to developing positive and loving connections at the foster home. An element that really benefits the story is its honest and mature dialogue. Every line seems real and poignant which leaves a feeling of sentiment, melancholy, and most of the time a combination of the two. The dialogue is further enhanced by the performances of the actors who seem to completely embody their roles.
The film utilizes Claymation, which is an animation style that requires tentative care and dedication. The clay gives a cartoonish look to the characters, but the subtle movements provided by the claymation technique enables a sentience-like quality to them. Each character’s design is unique, and they seem alive with their own actions and quirks. Aside from the animation style, the framing of the camera adds another dynamic layer. The filmmakers direct it like it was a live action narrative, which contributes to the realism. There is one specific moment when the foster children see a mother tend to her child and then there is a wide shot of the foster children looking at them. This scene displays so much substance and feeling with minimal dialogue.
One of the more surprising aspects of the film is its soundtrack. There are various genres of music in the movie, including everything from metal to electronic dance. These songs fit perfectly within the story, conveying different themes to fit each situation. Its use of a whimsical score mixed with more modern pop songs strikes the right balance, making it feel fresh and unique.
My Life as a Zucchini is the type of movie that reminds us of the flawed perspective of cynicism. The movie does not shy away from the harshness of reality and even emphasizes this detail by placing the anguish on children. Yet, it also makes a point of showing the beauty and kindness that exists in the world. It has a playful nature that does not stretch beyond the facets of our own existence. The claymation, writing, and performances provide a tender intimate look into the darkness of humanity, but still manages to present the silver linings we so often overlook.
My Life as a Zucchini was released theatrically on February 24, 2017 and came to Austin, TX on March 3, 2017.