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Little Girl Blue

  • Film
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
Little Girl Blue
Photograph: Les Poissons du Poissons

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

Marion Cotillard stars in a touching meta-portrait of an artist seen through the eyes of her daughter

This artful intimate French docudrama is a moving attempt by the filmmaker Mona Achache to better understand the life of her mother, the writer and photographer Carole Achache, who killed herself in 2016 aged 63. 

But that summary feels blunt compared to the many ideas at play here to do with artistic and emotional inheritance. Little Girl Blue opens a small but revealing window on mid-century French literary culture and several towering figures within it, including the writers Jean Genet and Marguerite Duras, who crossed paths with three generations of creative women in Mona Achache’s family – and not always for the best.

Little Girl Blue is also a bold play on non-fiction storytelling, returning time and again to Mona herself, surrounded by archive material – boxes, photos, letters – and in the company of the actor Marion Cotillard playing her mother. Cotillard’s contribution begins with a scene where she meets Mona in an apartment and takes off her clothes and puts on those belonging to Carole, Achache’s mother: jeans, cardigan, necklace and boots.

Cotillard is illuminating in a family story dominated by women but darkened by men

From there, we take a journey through the story of Mona’s grandmother, the publisher and writer Monique Lange, who in the 1950s and ’60s used to have Achache’s mother constantly at her side during a vibrant literary and intellectual life – leading to a horrific revelation about Genet abusing Carole as a child. Then we move through Carole’s adult life: her decadent youth, her later years as a mother, her professional struggles and more.

Little Girl Blue works as a tribute, a post-mortem and an act of attempted closure. It bravely deals with inherited trauma and repeated patterns of abuse, giving us a family story dominated by women (‘men were secondary,’ says Carole) but darkened by men. Cotillard’s role is illuminating, giving voice and life to this complicated character who ages and sours before our eyes. It’s honest, revealing and inventive.

Little Girl Blue premiered at the Cannes Film Festival.

Dave Calhoun
Written by
Dave Calhoun

Cast and crew

  • Director:Mona Achache
  • Screenwriter:Mona Achache
  • Cast:
    • Mona Achache
    • Marie Bunel
    • Marion Cotillard
    • Pierre Aussedat
    • Didier Flamand
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