Nana: A Little French Girl's Survival Tale

Actress Kelyna Lecomte has the rare gift of never being boring—probably because she's 4. For much of this near-wordless French drama by Valérie Massadian, we simply watch little Nana gather firewood, talk to her toys, take a bath, read from her storybook—or listen to the same morbid folktale read by her frazzled mother, when her mother's around. The two set out from Grandfather's pig farm to a nearby cottage in the woods, for reasons unsaid. Days pass in loving isolation, though the film occasionally cuts back to the farm where swine are being raised for slaughter. (Nana's long opening scene may upset some vegans and PETA types.) With the film split in half by an event not fully explained at the end, Nana becomes something of a survival tale, in which its tiny heroine proves resourceful if not fully aware of her situation. Raised on a farm, Nana is accustomed to death; it's just another fact she incorporates into the sing-song narration of her daily activities. When she finds a rabbit killed in a snare, she takes it home first as a pet—stroking the soft fur. Only later, when the refrigerator runs bare, does she think of it as food. Her prattling speech may hint at prior strife between her parents, or it may signal nothing at all. Reminiscent of the 2004 Japanese film Nobody Knows and, more recently, On the Sly (also seen at NWFF), Nana illustrates the extent to which children live in self-made, half-imaginary worlds of their own. The indefatigable Nana finally becomes both author and protagonist of her storybook adventure. (Massadian will attend and introduce Friday's and Saturday's screenings.)

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