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Mouchette (Criterion Collection)

Nadine Nortier , Jean-Claude Guilbert , Robert Bresson , Theodor Kotulla    Unrated   DVD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 42.99 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Perhaps the most accessible of Robert Bresson's films, this story of a 14-year-old schoolgirl at the mercy of the world around her is like a melodrama stripped of flourish. Mouchette is an angry adolescent in the French provinces, the daughter of a drunken bootlegger and a dying, bedridden mother, a pariah in school and a figure of village gossip. She rebels in typically adolescent ways, lobbing mud at teasing classmates and defying wagging tongues with a willful stare, but her deep pain and loneliness pour from her hollow, sad eyes. There's no sentimentality in Bresson's portrait of village life, but for a few brief moments the film explodes with energy and emotion. Mouchette rides the bumper cars at a local fair, flirting with a young boy in loving bumps and deliberate rams, and her dour expression flowers in a smile as the fairground speakers blare a rock & roll tune... until her father's heavy hand slaps her back to reality. It's a moment unlike any other in a Bresson film, a joyous reprieve from the monotony of her life, but if the rest of her existence is glum and hopeless, the film is unexpectedly beautiful. The style is often fragmented--the film opens on a stunning play of hands, feet, and spying eyes as poacher and police both wait for their prey--but the beauty of the forests and meadows creates an idyllic naturalism that leavens Bresson's harsh portrait of the human condition. --Sean Axmaker

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Of Bresson's Natural/Supernatural Miracles. March 31 2002
Format:VHS Tape
This superb film is one of the most moving examples not only of the genuine spiritual quality of Bresson's work, but also of the unique beauty of the amazing 'flat' images that Bresson created with a 50mm lens. The first scene alone, with the two rival men spying on each other, is worth the price of the cassette. But there is so much more to come.
This film has a lovely naturalistic surface feel to it, but as with all of Bresson's work, we are really watching a supernatural reality. As the unhappy story of the poor, teenage, village girl,Mouchette, unfolds, this naturalism becommes more and more haunted by the energy of the dark spiritual condition of the people that surround her. This condition is as horrid and nightmarish as a Bosch painting of hell, but of course Bresson never uses anything other than the most ordinary naturalistic images. This dark environment drives Mouchette to the point where she chooses to take her own life. But the extended scene of Mouchette's suicide is, by the simplest of means, made so incredibly moving and disarming in its innocence that, even if you can not make sense of it, you can not fail to feel that you have witnessed a spiritual event. No one but Robert Bresson could have achieved this. Please, even if you do not like my review, watch this film by one of the few true geniuses of cinematic art.
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5.0 out of 5 stars from Shirley Jackson to Jim Thompson June 11 2003
By Yumi
Format:VHS Tape
The first scene is of a bird caught in a snare fluttering madly to escape, then a hand rescues the bird and lets it free.
Bresson depicts the utter malice than can lay behind a rural community to the abject meanness of poverty.

Asked to sing along in school, her voice was pretty until she hit the high notes and then she was ostracized by her teacher. What was there ever in her life to sing about? Altho at home, doing her chores her voice shines with sweetness

And her only moment of joy on the amusement park car flirting with possibly the only smile in her life, taken away in exchange for a night with a poacher.

It's amazing how her everyday face is a frown, except when she is tending to her dying mother when her face is beautifically transformed to absolute love and adoration.

And I don't believe Bresson asks you to feel sorry for her. He is just showing us.
Mouchette finally needs to confess something to her mother, possibly the only time she has asked for help or advice but at that moment , her mother dies.
That day, an old lady in town gives mouchette a shroud for her mother and a beautiful dress, the kind you might wear to confirmation or a baptism. She has had only had tattered rags and ill fitting clunky shoes all her life.
Altho my description may sound melodramatic, the movie is not.It doesn't try to play on your emotions.
The last scene is haunting and unforgettable.
This is a most beautiful movie.
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5.0 out of 5 stars best movie June 25 2001
Format:VHS Tape
i've only watched it twice but so many moments are burned into my memory forever. it's something ineffable in the tilt of every shot, the slow, predestined precision of every movement of the figures ('actors' is not the right word for a bresson movie), the supernatural evocativeness of every facial expression, the densely but subtly arranged, teasing interplay of sound and image that builds up through the whole film until both sound and image come to an end in the only suicide on film that is truly a miracle. each moment is an icon painted on slate and clearly visible only by the light of a candle in its own chamber in a dark and infinite church to which my mind will always have access though i'll never know the way there.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Sombre Jan. 28 2001
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
I would tend to agree with the general sentiment expressed by the previous reviewers. The overall unrelenting misery of Mouchette's existence is somehow uplifting. Her burning determination not to be subdued other than on her own terms shines through. The final scene is both disturbing and absolutely believable.
I have been to such villages.
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