Sad-eyed and possessed of a rare stillness for stop-motion animation, this Oscar-nominated Swiss-French import beguiles you with its look, especially that of its main character. He’s a little boy named Icare, yet he goes by Courgette, and we’re not sure if that’s a term of endearment. His nose makes the sobriquet fitting, but his blue hair and scared expressions hint at a miserable existence. And when his alcoholic single mom yells at him through a beer-soaked slur, we know things are not well in his world.
The main reason to commit to this movie’s tough story of orphan loneliness is the screenplay by Céline Sciamma, herself a major French talent devoted to tales of youthful resilience (her 2014 film 'Girlhood' is breathtaking). As directed by Claude Barras, Sciamma’s sense of aching empathy comes through with zero pity and just the right amount of tenderness.