Little Girl Blue 2023 Movie Review
Like Four Daughters , Little Girl Blue is a narrative experiment that takes the form of a documentary biography of Carole Achache, the mother of director Mona Achache, and an essay on method acting by Marion Cotillard, scheduled to play Carole in the reenactments. It is an investigative work, in which the daughter gets to know her mother in depth and learns to forgive her based on the material heritage of diaries, writings, images and videos, while exploring the process of conceiving and developing characters in cinema.
The narrative begins with the poetic image of a woman, in shades of blue, buried in the sand on the beach facing the sea, which Mona returns to at the end of the narrative. Afterwards, the director reviews the physical, digital and memorial archive left by Carole, who committed suicide at age 63. These files come to life from the audiophone, the starting point of Marion Cotillard’s performance and which eventually superimposes the voice of the actress, and from clippings that maintain spelling errors ( avce instead of avec ) . It’s easy to feel uncomfortable with the daughter’s breaking the mother’s confidentiality, but it’s an inconvenience quickly dissipated with the management’s work.
In addition to creating moments that associate her with her mother, such as the montage that juxtaposes the two while they drink wine, the director creates a kind of installation with facts, events and images spread across the floor of the apartment and hung on the wall. The director navigates through the infinity of puzzle pieces, unable to specify who the individual is, but sufficient for the proposed biographical document. Inside that bag of memories, at the end filled, the knowledge of who escaped being discovered by the daughter in life.
Despite enjoying the biography, it’s the part about cinema that hooks me. When Marion Cotillard opens the apartment door, a sequence juxtaposed with the insertion of a photo after winning the Oscar, the feeling is one of confusion. With formal interaction based on looks and short sentences, Mona opens the drawer of the table where she is sitting and pushes clothes and accessories that characterize her mother. Marion changes clothes on camera; she puts on the curly wig, puts on the brown contact lens and glasses, even puts perfume on her body. The literality of the gesture exposes a form of acting characterized by mimesis, in which the actor lends his body to the expression of someone real.
Marin even claims to be “ the most difficult role he has ever played ”, as it is not only the mimesis of appearance or behavior – from when he played Edith Piaf, in Um Hymn to Love –, but also spiritual. As the narrative progresses, the actress can be seen grasping the essence of Carole, until the moment when she tears out the pages that are in the director’s hand – also inserted as a character in the narrative. The question that lingers is: is this a portrait of the process as it happened or, on the contrary, of the process staged by the director?
This can be said of any creation, because the narrative is not the preparation, nor the pretense of preparation, it is the middle ground between the two. At one point, Marion is, in the background of the action, walking on a treadmill while being filmed with the aid of rear projection (in which a video is projected behind the character). Soon after, this scene is introduced into the narrative, part of the staging. Conception, behind the scenes and execution become one. The mother’s biography is inseparable from the search and reconstitution process.
In the end, Little Girl Blue is a masochistic effort in which Mona relives uncomfortable moments – the sound of drinking tea, reproduced by Marion exactly or bringing up sexual abuse in a confession, but such is cinematic art. A tiring and painful process that is, in itself, the artist’s spiritual reward.