It wasn’t until a couple days after watching Oscar-nominated animation My Life as a Zucchini – or Courgette, if you prefer – that I realised why the film worked so well for me. In a brisk 60-something minutes, Claude Barras’ stop-motion movie tells the story of pubescent orphans looking to fit in.
My Life as a Zucchini begins intensely – with our titular vegetable inadvertently causing his mother’s death – and continues along a path of bullying, depression …before shifting gears into romance, friendship and acceptance. That swing from the horrific into pseudo-schmaltz initially chafed against me a little – even as it moved me! – until I realised: it’s a fairy tale!
We talk about “modern fairy tales” a lot, but this is just the platonic ideal of a fairytale. Orphans! Dark backstories! Villainous stepmothers – well, okay, it’s an aunt (Megan Mullally), but the principle holds! The (comparatively) crude animation wasn’t up my alley, but it does help create that picture book aesthetic and reinforce the fairy tale vibe. The ending isn’t a proper fairytale ending, I suppose. There’s no knight in shining armour, no happily ever after. But it feels like the modern equivalent, filled with tempered hope and an all-encompassing aura of love.