Review: ‘Mouchette’

A 14-year-old girl, a drudge in an impoverished alcoholic peasant family, is the heroine of this brilliant film. Her sullen defiance, her failure to connect with life and a final opting out via suicide are treated with clear and uncluttered insight.

A 14-year-old girl, a drudge in an impoverished alcoholic peasant family, is the heroine of this brilliant film. Her sullen defiance, her failure to connect with life and a final opting out via suicide are treated with clear and uncluttered insight.

Director-writer Robert Bresson has updated Georges Bernanos’ pre-war book [Nouvelle histoire de Mouchette]. Bresson’s refusal to use professional actors also aids his treatment.

At school, the daughter is friendless and takes to heaving dirt at her classmates every time she gets out of school. Her only human contact comes through her rape, half consented to, by a local poacher. The death of her mother, and the hypocritical piousness of her father and villagers, seem to be felt by this wild little girl.

Everyday incidents take on an almost spiritual intensity in Bresson’s controlled and incisive direction and handling of the players. Nadine Nortier has the animal ferocity and gentleness needed for the role.

Mouchette

France

Production

Argos/Parc. Director Robert Bresson; Producer Anatole Dauman (exec.); Screenplay Robert Bresson; Camera Ghislain Cloquet; Editor Raymond Lamy; Music Jean Wiener; Art Director Pierre Guffroy

Crew

(B&W) Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1967. Running time: 85 MIN.

With

Nadine Nortier Jean-Claude Guilbert Maria Cardinal Paul Herbert Jean Vimenet Marie Susini
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