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Moi Cesar, 10 ans 1/2, 1m39
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by Greg Muskewitz

"Puppy love, as remembered by a former child."
5 stars

Absolutely the most delightful and winsome film out of the Palm Springs batch, it’s a French comedy along the lines of an Amélie, Jr.; seen through the jaded but naïve eyes of its 10-year-old protagonist (4’6”, 10 pounds overweight, etc.); his parents couldn’t decide between naming him Julius or Cornelius, so they went with César (Caesar) instead — with the surname of Petit.

The beginning stretch of the film (after the beautifully shot credits sequence, winding down overhead) substantiates its influence of Amélie by the pansophistic voiceover, the larger-than-life platitudes, the sweeping and uplifting score, the fantasy elements (including a Pulp Fiction-inspired videogame dream), and of course, the très likable César. The initial misadventures involve a dysfunctional household where César’s parents are constantly fighting, and where he mistakes his father’s hush-hush business trip for a row up the creek without any paddles, and then the typical scholastic endeavors with his best friend (along with their typical autodidactic anatomy lessons and homemade sketches of the vagina with the functions of its holes). School is where things change in the film, giving the story its driving impetus; an adorable new student arrives, that both César and his best friend vie for the affections of, and ultimately, lead their newfound adventures with (recess, sleepovers, birthday parties, secretive trips to London to find the best friend’s father that he never knew, etc.). Actor Richard Berry directs and co-writes, casting his daughter Joséphine as the student both boys fall in love with, and it’s clear that the showcase also comes around to displaying his love of his daughter, and similarly making the audience fall in love with her. And it’s easy enough to fall for her and this lovable movie in all of its enchanted, warmhearted, charming, and affectionate joie de vivre. Even though it is adults putting sight behind the eyes of youth, it is a rare occasion that they remember what childhood was like themselves, the ups and downs, without the need to be overbearingly precocious. Sure, in the end it plays like a Big Picture fairytale, but when you’re actually the child looking back upon your own memories, your story is remembered the same way. Most importantly, the whole thing is just plain fun, able to mix the carefree attitude of a child’s salad days with moments of grounded realism (the search for a paternal figure, treating the subject of violence with violence, parental communication with children — not to them — and even twitterpated amour), so that even when a tired gag of breaking wind is used as a neurotic fantasy, it’s genuine and funny without feeling displaced. Also by the end, it additionally manages to establish its own identity and adventure apart from its stylistic fountainhead, Amélie. With Jules Sitruk, Mabo Kouyate, Anna Karina, Maria de Medeiros, and Jean-Philippe Écoffey.

[Absolutely to be seen.]

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originally posted: 02/05/04 08:49:31
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Palm Springs Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Palm Springs Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Seattle Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Seattle Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

4/02/06 Garth and Lana We watched it in the original French and it was adorable!!! 5 stars
6/06/05 helena im 13 + needed the help of my french exchange 2 understand but i found this film very funny 5 stars
12/16/04 Andrea I saw this movie and loved it. Does anyone know where I can buy it? 5 stars
11/22/04 Dmitry Mironin One of the best family films in 2004 5 stars
8/25/04 Henri visit 5 stars
8/05/04 Teddy Awesome !! Very interresting 5 stars
4/03/04 Enzo absolutely brilliant superb cast 5 stars
3/25/04 Anonymous The better movie i've seen in my life!!! 5 stars
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