Animation Features Live Action Movies


Director – Marie Amachoukeli – Co-Director (Animation) – Pierre Emmanuel-Lyet – 2023 – France – Cert. 12a – 84m

Live Action **** / Animation *****

After her beloved nanny returns to Cape Verde, six-year-old Cléo visits her for the Summer – out in UK cinemas on Friday, June 14th and on BFI Player from Monday, July 22nd

Six-year-old Cléo (six-year-old Louise Mauroy-Panzani) lives with her dad (Arnaud Rebotini) in France, but is mostly cared for by her nanny Gloria (Ilça Moreno Zego). One day, Gloria gets a phone call informing her that her mum has died, so she has to return to her home island in Cape Verde. Cléo is distraught, and makes Gloria promise that they will see each other again.

Gloria makes arrangements for the little girl to spend the Summer with her on her island. She meets the family from whom Gloria was separated by being in France – the pregnant Fernanda (Abnara Gomes Varela), the alienated ten-year-old César (Fredy Gomes Tavares) and, in due course, Fernanda’s baby Santiago. Gloria spends some considerable amount of time mothering the newly-born Santiago, causing Cléo to experience extreme sibling rivalry for Gloria’s attentions. Eventually, these emotions come to a head in the little girl…

This is one of those sadly all too rare films which in the process of telling a story from a child’s point of view completely gets inside their head. Amachoukeli achieves this by refusing to explain details beyond the comprehension of a six-year-old, via a remarkable performance by Mauroy-Panzani and through sections of animation co-directed with Emmanuel-Lyet (you can see more of this remarkable work here) which explore elements of the child’s emotional state of mind at various narrative junctures.

Car journeys in France and Cape Verde become low angle, moving shots of rows of buildings seen from the passenger seat. The young actress is never cute or playing to the camera, but rather completely natural, so much so that you can’t take your eyes off her. Where it’s deployed, much of the animation is deceptively simple – shots of water or sky, a few largely static images in which not much happens – yet somehow it’s very affecting.

In one remarkable sequence towards the end, the child loses it and quite literally goes off the deep end – we see older boys leaping off cliffs to drop maybe 30 feet into the sea below, we see the actress run towards the drop, we see her animated point of view as she descends deeper through air bubbles into ever darkening blue before seeing a small… no, a large, possibly whale-sized… iridescent fish. Is it all over?

There’s a whole undercurrent (no pun intended) about poor, third world nationals forced by economic circumstances to migrate to wealthier countries to work looking after the children of wealthier nations at the expense of being able to spend time with their own families back home. That’s not to say that a migrant looking after a child in a wealthier country can’t express genuine maternal love and care for their charge; clearly the situation is far more complex than that. This film is not afraid of tackling such complexity.

Altogether, an extraordinary work on many levels.

àma GLORIA is out in cinemas in the UK on Friday, June 14th and on BFI Player from Monday, July 22nd.


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