Our review of Le Petit Piaf praises the quality and grace of the French fairy tale directed and performed by Gérard Jugnot, centered on a Creole child who dreams of being a singer.
Sing along, says an old saying. This is what Nelson tries to do, a ten-year-old boy with a golden uvula paralyzed by shyness and fear of disappointing his single mother, who raises him amidst a thousand sacrifices with the help of his grandmother. Nelson dreams of being a singer and pushed by his friends Mia and Zidane, two homeless brothers, he decides to enter the “Star Kids” competition, which will allow him to become famous and buy a house for himself and his friends. Now all he needs is a vocal trainer who he will find in the shady Pierre Leroy, a Parisian singer who has come to Réunion Island to perform at the resort where Nelson’s mother works.
An exotic paradise, a group of cute children and an uplifting and moving story. The Little Piafnow in theaters distributed by No.Mad Entertainment, is the classic film for families that doesn’t shine for its originality, but wisely doses traditional ingredients, giving life to a pleasant and entertaining film. All thanks to the suggestive setting and the sympathy of the little protagonists Soan Arhimann, winner of the French edition of The Voice Kids, Ornela Dalèle and Zacharie Rochette, all at their first experience in front of the lens. But what stands out above all is the alchemy between Soan Arhimann, who plays little Nelson, and the crumpled Marc Lavoine, French actor and singer who has worked with Claude Chabrol, Luc Besson and Neil Jordan.
Music heals all wounds
The Little Piaf it’s a movie about second chances which brings together a group of characters each affected by their own malaise. Nelson can’t overcome the shyness that makes it difficult for him to perform in public and he also has to deal with his mother, who would like a future of study and a secure job for him. In her turn, the woman is away all day, busy cleaning the hotel, and she is unable to look after her son as she would like. Worse is the situation of Mia and Zidane, orphans and homeless, but determined to do anything in order not to go to a group home and risk being separated. And what about Pierre Leroy, a successful singer who agreed to perform on the remote island of Réunion to escape the Parisian metropolis and the ghosts of the past. Even the owner of the hotel, the good-natured Monsieur Lepetit, played by the director Gerard Jugnotdeep down it’s not doing too well.
Despite the difficulties, good feelings triumph on the island of Réunion, lush tourist paradise in the heart of the Indian Ocean which blends French and Creole culture. In addition to the natural beauties and poverty, what abounds in this place far from the rest of the world is the music that is played and danced in the streets and in the clubs. And music is certainly not lacking in the film, strengthened by Marc Lavoine’s performances and his guitar, sometimes accompanied by the white voice of Soan Arhimann. And the very heart of the film is represented by Nelson’s singing lessons, taken by Pierre Leroy under his protective wing. The singer trains his little pupil with questionable methods, making him sing while balancing on a surfboard or on top of a mountain, but more than expanding his vocal skills, his lessons will help him find the self-confidence he lacks to take flight.
Loved ones, friends and family: together we go faster
As Gérard Jugnot himself admits, the purpose of The Little Piaf it is to amuse and touch with gentle entertainment. The delicate humor that pervades the film makes you smile on several occasions while the triumph of good feelings warms the heart. Jugnot’s film is the story of a community, of family ties and friendships that consolidate on an island where no one is left on their own. Solidarity, for adults and children, passes through music and concrete gestures even if there is also a background of cynicism that leaks from the two talking crickets of the story, the messed up Pierre Leroy and little Mia, who despite her young age has already tested the hardness of life.
If the hope for a better future passes through singing, Le Petit Piaf is a hymn to art, beauty, the ability to cultivate one’s dreams and friendship told in simple and immediate language. The pleasantness of the film passes through the construction of the main and secondary characters. Even the appearance of the outline figures, simple specks but gracefully constructed, draws a smile with its touches of slapstick scattered almost and there (the catchphrase of the sliding doors that do not open to the passage of Pierre Leroy and the physicality of the improbable taxi driver Hubert in primis). Not to mention the musical sequences, placed at the right moments and capable of conquering the public who will not be able to get rid of Nelson’s musical catchphrase so easily, my peiwritten and performed by Soan Arhimann.
Pleasant and gentle, Gérard Jugnot’s comedy Le Petit Piaf is heart-warming family entertainment, but it’s also a hymn to pursuing one’s dreams in the face of adversity. Thanks to the characterization and the chemistry between the characters, especially between the little Soan Arhimann and the popular Marc Lavoine, the story runs fast in a riot of music, fun and good feelings.
Because we like it
- The pleasantness of the script and the characterization of the characters.
- The chemistry between the two protagonists, the little Soan Arhimann and the experienced Marc Lavoine.
- The centrality of music and the grace of comic moments.
- The splendid location of the island of Réunion.
- The happy ending is clearly phoned.