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Customer Review

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars short and profound, 24 Jun. 2014
This review is from: Mouchette [DVD] [1967] (DVD)
Mouchette is a particularly sad film, but one that repays close attention. It was the second film Bresson made from a novel by Bernanos, the first being Diary Of A Country Priest that came out 16 years earlier. Over that time he had pared down his style further still, from what was already quite austere. In Mouchette there is no music until right at the end, except as natural background at the funfair. This enables Bresson to get even greater density into the construction of his scenes, so that the passing through a door seems repeatedly to have a symbolic significance we would overlook if there was some other stimulus affecting the emotions. The girl who plays Mouchette is perfectly cast, and she comes across as a relative of Hans Christian Andersen's Little Match Girl. She has a remarkable quality of poise in her face that doesn't contradict her feral, uncommunicative nature, which has developed because no one in her entourage has wanted to communicate with her. Her story is that of the failure of love, and you can feel her reaching out to people on occasion, and generous to her baby brother, holding him in tears after she has been raped. These scenes are heartrending, made even more so by the complete lack of self-pity. There is a lot of nature imagery, which is beautiful but cannot make up for the appalling cruelty Mouchette is subjected to. The young man whom she seems to quite like, met at the bumper cars, draws her attention by constantly bashing into her, as if to say this is the only way of communicating she knows. However she smiles and tries to approach him - he is a bit too old for her - after the ride, but her father comes between them and callously slaps her in the face. It is a film that has an overwhelming sense of despair, but the feeling of grace that Bresson also achieves is such that you do not feel dragged down, because the implication is that our understanding is partial and that faith would require humility before the bigger picture. This is so palpable that it brings a kind of transcendence unique to this filmmaker.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 22 Jul 2014 06:15:42 BDT
Film Buff says:
Yet another perceptive review. I definitely see Mouchette as a very sympathetic character and feel for her suffering strongly as you do, but as I have already said in my comments on L'Argent I think she is no innocent in Bresson's hands and answers abuse with insolence of her own. I'd like you to take a look at my review and tell me what you think. I feel in this film we also can't ignore the idea of her being a cypher for Jesus Christ. Like Balthazar before her she undergoes the ordeals of the 7 Stages of the Cross before her final redemption and attainment of grace. It strikes me the same can be said of the unfortunate priest in Diary of a Country Priest as well...

By the way the Monteverdi appears at the beginning of the film as well as at the end after the mother figure has said something like 'What will happen to them after I die...', the question for which the film provides an answer.

In reply to an earlier post on 22 Jul 2014 14:04:39 BDT
schumann_bg says:
Thank you Film Buff! I'm about to read your review of Mouchette, which I had jumped over after L'Argent and The Devil, Probably to get a sense of the totality of your reviews so far.

I hadn't thought of the Stations of the Cross, but I'm sure you're right - maybe I'll find out more in your review? There's a very good organ work by the French composer Marcel Dupre which goes through all fourteen, but apparently seven of them are often taken as a group (cf wikipedia!). Actually Dupre has something of Bresson, I think ...

I don't quite remember why she throws the mud at her classmates but I remember there being a reason, that it was in retaliation. I imagine you are referring to this when you speak of 'insolence of her own' - I thought it was good for her not to be too meek and passive because you feel that without that fight in her she would certainly be lost, and in effect she is anyway ... I was struck by the stylised way Bresson got her to throw the mud, actually, rather than by the cause. Her hand ends up as if making a stop sign to an oncoming car. I actually meant this episode particularly when I said she was feral, as well as her closeness to nature.

I had forgotten the Monteverdi, although I'm sure it is used with precise effect. What a remarkable film, though ... Apparently the Dardennes film Rosetta is inspired by it - a very fine film also, set in present-day Belgium.
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