World-weary Parisian tween Paloma (Garance Le Guillermic) decides to end it all before she reaches her twelfth birthday. An encounter with grumpy building concierge, Renee (Balasko), gives her reasons to wait a little longer.
Mona Achache makes an accomplished debut with this adaptation of Muriel Barbery’s novel. Concentrating on 11 year-old Garance Le Guillermic’s confused take on adult behaviour, there is innovative use of inner monologues, Hi-8 footage and animated inserts, charting her relationship with her Champagne-swilling mother and distant father. Friendships with retired Togo Igawa and widowed concierge Josiane Balasko offer insights into a grown-up world where appearances are often deceptive. Le Guillermic is precocious and Igawa sweetly solicitous, but it’s Balasko’s shift from frumpy stereotype to the embodiment of her true nature that gives this engaging, melancholy fable its edgy charm.
Some acute performances do justice to the novel in a quirky adaptation of the novel. Balasko steals the show as the prickly concierge with the warmer side.
Reviewed by David Parkinson