Wandering out to the nearby woods in seach of the treehouse her mother has talked of building as a child, Nelly encounters another little girl, Marion, who looks eerily similar to herself (the two are in fact played by identitcal twin sisters, the extraordinary Gabrielle and Joséphine Sanz).
The remainder of the film is taken up with their shared adventure, placing Petite Maman firmly in the pantheon of great films about childhood.
With a wonderful grasp of the shared secrets, lost time and unbridled fantasy of childhood friendship, the simplicity of its setting, time-hopping conceit, and gentle air give Sciamma’s film the feel of one of the great BBC children’s dramas of the 1970s, reimagined and remade for the big screen in 2021.
As much a film about adults remembering childhood as it is about children discovering lasting human connection through friendship.
Effortlessly loving, Petite Maman is a film like a warm hug, neatly summed up by a bittersweet moment of farewell: “I’m already thinking about you.”