Review: Àma Gloria
- CANNES 2023: Marie Amachoukeli delivers an incredibly moving and exquisitely sensitive first solo feature film about the strong bond between a young French child and her Cape Verdean nanny
"It’s my song – Songs belong to everyone." At almost six years of age, our perceptions, sensations, observations, attentiveness and understanding of ourselves and the surrounding adult world often emerge in the highly defined and very specific territory of the everyday world of childhood, between home and school, the park and the bathtub, games and drawings. But children’s emotions can take on surprisingly significant dimensions, fuelled by an instinctive and brutal sincerity which causes social codes to elude them. It’s this alchemy which Marie Amachoukeli (co-director of the 2014 Camera d’Or winner Party Girl [+see also:
interview: Marie Amachoukeli, Claire B…
film profile]) has decided to explore in her beautiful first solo-directed feature film Àma Gloria [+see also:
interview: Marie Amachoukeli
film profile], which was unveiled in the opening slot of the Cannes Film Festival’s 62nd Critics’ Week.
"All my memories are with you". An only child with no mother in the picture, Cléo (Louise Mauroy-Panzani) shares her life as a young child in Lyon with her Cape Verdean nanny Gloria (Ilça Moreno Zego), in the presence-absence of her father who’s wholly absorbed in his work (Arnaud Rebotini). Their time together is full of laughter, ball games, chasing, “bobos” which need kissing better... There’s a genuinely close bond between the nanny and her charge, a sense of happiness buoyed by little nothings and embraces. But a clap of thunder in Gloria’s life destroys it all: "my mum died today, I have to leave, go home to my island, look after my children, I won’t be coming back." It’s an incredibly painful separation for Cléo, which forces her father ("I miss her and you lied to me") to come good on an empty promise: he must send her to Gloria’s for the holidays. So off she goes to Cape Verde (a whole other planet for a little girl like her), into the heart of Gloria’s family ("your house is really small"), at a time when her daughter Fernanda (Abnara Gomes Varela) is about to give birth and her young son César (Fredy Gomes Tavares) is anything but welcoming...
With tiny, delicate brushstrokes, Marie Amachoukeli paints an incredibly accurate and poignant picture (without any heavy-handedness) which is inspired in the simple way it singles out subtle yet incredibly crucial moments: a movement, a look, an ordinary situation which resonates inside of us. Shot in very close proximity to the characters, this highly sensitive exposé of the various states of mind experienced by a little girl who’s discovering the world (without grasping all the issues involved) and slowly realising that it doesn’t revolve around her, exudes a charm which is both firmly controlled and crystal clear. The film owes much of its success to its two main actresses, but it also offers up dreamlike, animated interludes, perhaps to remind us that in early childhood, the unconscious and reality come together and intertwine to form an incredibly colourful imaginary world in perpetual motion, like the Cape Verde sea.
(Translated from French)
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