A young mother tells her baby daughter the story of how she met her father, spinning a tale of how a princess met her “Prince Charming.” This princess goes through suitors from the “More the Merrier Kingdom” and the “Me-Me-Me Kingdom,” among others, but can’t seem to find the right one.
Summoning up all her pluckiness and moxie, the princess manages to spot her prince charming, and then must try to meet him. After great effort, she does so, meeting his family and getting married. They embark on a “happily ever after,” but this fairy tale has a slightly different ending than most.
Told with delightful charm and sweetness, this lovely, gentle romance — written and directed by Fabrice Bracq — tells a classic tale of girl-meets-boy, embellishing its story of a contemporary love affair with touches of whimsy and magic. It uses the structure of a fairy tale not just to delight the baby daughter, but spans a large amount of narrative — all while never losing touch with the fragile human reality underlying the fantasy.
The film is guided and pulled along by its voiceover, which details the travails of the princess in finding her “true love.” It’s a trope that anyone can recognize, brought to life by beautifully bright and fluid visuals that combine vivid, crisp cinematography with imaginative special effects. The interplay of voiceover and image both highlight and contrast with one another, as the princess smooths over modern points of tension while highlighting the archetypal joy of falling in love and eventually starting a family.
Yet unlike a classical fairy tale, the writing goes beyond the typical happy ending. Though it retains the metaphorical fairy tale language, the storytelling unfurls something much more complicated and heart-wrenching. Even as the mother talks of slaying dragons, the images tell a much more human story — one brought to life by the especially nuanced performances of its cast. Though they have no lines of typical dialogue, actors Delphine Theodore and Stephane Coulon bring true vulnerability and openness to their characters. As a family, their interactions with their adorable baby are completely delightful, but it also makes the ending all the more emotionally involving and gripping.
Told with great love and affection and true to its title, “A Whole World for a Little World” ends with a strong message from mother to daughter, one of celebrating the life we have and taking joy in the small but important details of life. But the title is also a perfect encapsulation of how humble and imperfect lives can be their own stories of bravery, courage and magic — elements we can weave into our own telling and understanding of our lives. Wake up to the enchantment in our own worlds, the story seems to say — before it is too late.