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Le lovely styling of Petit Nicolas

Ever picked a film chiefly because you like the design? It's partly on that basis that I really want to see Petit Nicolas, a sweet-looking French film set in 1950s Paris that came out a couple of years ago. 

The 2009 film, which hit British screens only last summer, somehow passed me by. But it has just been on at my tiny local cinema (Whirledart in Loughborough Junction in case you are south London-ish and haven't checked out this dinky space above some railway arches). A friend alerted me but, alas, I didn't see her message until the screening had passed. So I found out a bit more about the film instead... and dug out some stills featuring its glorious mid-50s interiors and colour palette.

There's a skill to having that much brown in one room, but making it look beautiful.

The story stars 10-year-old naughty schoolboy Nicolas, pictured above, who is thrown into turmoil upon learning that his mother is pregnant. Getting his wires crossed after an overheard conversation, Nicolas concludes that he is to be ditched and replaced. An emergency plan is concocted by a troupe of small boys – Nicolas and his schoolfriends – to keep our hero in the artfully styled family home.

The colours reminded me a lot of another very beautifully styled period film, Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom, though everything in that movie – another sweet tale told from a child's eye view – has a more muted, sludgy hue.

The pistachio, turquoise, peachy pink and lemon combination is classic 50s, but designed to look lived in, rather than a shiny repro pastiche. Love the black shiny worktops and plinths, too. A nice touch that anchors the palette and ties it all together. And what about that incredible yellow washing machine?

What very good kitchen lighting: wall lights and pendants over the worktop. The sort that would give a cosy glow after dark, not a glaring mono blaze from overhead. We all spend so much time in our kitchens these days, and careful thought about how to create mood with layers of lighting can make a dramatic difference to how you feel in a room. And for kitchens – or any rooms – that need a bit of love, one shouldn't underestimate the power of a few well-placed lamps to transform even shabby spaces and unkempt corners. They mask a multitude of unfinished DIY jobs, I find.

Anyway, check out the trailer. The film, directed by Laurent Tirard, is based on the best-selling French books chronicling the adventures of the eponymous "Little Nicolas" and written by René Goscinny, also known for his legendary Asterix series. I'm going to hunt it out on DVD.

Post by Kate

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