Critic Consensus: Remarkable not only as a viewing experience, but as a showcase for Robert Bresson's tremendous skill, Mouchette underpins its grim narrative with devastating grace.
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as Mouchette's Mother
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Critic Reviews for Mouchette
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.
A magnificent and deeply rewarding example of Bresson's stripped-down methods of cutting and framing, sound and dialogue, performance and movement.
In artistically pointing up their lack of understanding and affection for Mouchette, Mr. Bresson never fully lets a viewer in on details that would help him appreciate them, too.
Audience Reviews for Mouchette
the refined essence of tragedy. so understated and unsentimental that i can only compare it to bu˝uel's los olvidados
Isolation & desolation, people's cruelty & misjudges &.... , Well I can go on & on about this masterpiece's greatness but I don't think I can find the right words to describe it
"Mouchette" is a tragic tale of an unappreciated adolescent girl. Call it the "Welcome to the Dollhouse" of its day, if you like.
As usual, director Robert Bresson calls on amateur actors to execute his minimalist script. This does not come without a price -- star Nadine Nortier's wooden qualities go beyond her emotionally numbed character, and whenever she's asked to cry, it's painfully obvious that a stagehand has squirted her cheeks with water.
Fake tears and all, Nortier's Mouchette is an impoverished, abused girl around 14 years old. Her ragged pigtails alone are enough to draw our pity. Her mother is dying, and her father is a heavy drinker who traffics liquor. She works odd jobs for trivial wages. Thanks to her bedridden mother, she also is forced to care for an infant sister. Her dirty appearance and hand-me-down clothes earn her ridicule at school, and even her teachers don't like her. Her only happy moment during the film is some quick fun with a carnival bumper car -- she mischievously bonds with a boy driving another car, only to be snubbed once they exit and their gap in social class becomes clear. The girl can't catch a break.
However, the story resists digging for easy pathos. Mouchette is far from likable. She is sullen, suspicious and uncommunicative. She wreaks petty revenge on her classmates by throwing mud clumps at them. And she's often rude to people who show her kindness. Moral principles aren't a luxury that she can afford. She's just trying to get through another miserable day.
A crisis occurs when she witnesses a backwoods argument between a poacher and the local gamekeeper. The men are not only on opposite sides of the law but are courting the same woman. Mouchette is manipulated into supplying an alibi for a possible murder, and it's a safe bet that she'll regret being pushed into this dispute.
"Mouchette" is a short feature that never wastes a beat. It does have plenty of stiff acting, as well as Bresson's dependable quirk of boosting incidental sound effects (poured liquid, crunching leaves, clinking bottles, especially footsteps) to maddening levels. Watching a Bresson film can be like listening to someone slurp his coffee. Luckily, the deft editing and cinematography are exquisite.
Warning: Scenes with real-life hunting of rabbits and birds may offend sensitive viewers.
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