2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
short and profound
, 24 Jun. 2014
This review is from: Mouchette [DVD]  (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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