Ponette

  • 1996
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Drama

The world through the eyes of 4-year-old Ponette (Victoire Thivisol), who's just survived the car crash that killed her mother: How can the view seem so muted and flat? We first meet Ponette in the hospital, then join her as she drives through the country with her father (Xavier Beauvois), whose grief manifests itself in anger at his wife's carelessness....read more

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The world through the eyes of 4-year-old Ponette (Victoire Thivisol), who's just survived the car crash that killed her mother: How can the view seem so muted and flat? We first meet Ponette in the hospital, then join her as she drives through the country with her

father (Xavier Beauvois), whose grief manifests itself in anger at his wife's carelessness. He leaves Ponette with her aunt (Claire Nebout), and the child plays -- or doesn't -- with young cousins Delphine (Delphine Schiltz) and Matiaz (Matiaz Bureau) before all three youngsters are sent to

boarding school (a move that, given their tender ages, is hard for Americans to fathom). The film's exploration of the way children come to accept or question faith and persistence -- especially amid the conflicting stories adults make up to explain death -- is haunting, and to its credit, the temptation to push easy emotional buttons is resisted in favor of an overall gentleness that's rare in contemporary movies. Childhood rambling and games alternate with scenes of the angelic Ponette praying to God for a word from her mom, and Thivisol's performance -- if you can even call what so

young a child does acting -- is truly praiseworthy. But it -- along with Caroline Champetier's appealingly simple and luminous cinematography -- feels like a consolation prize for putting up with the pallid narrative. Writer-director Jacques Doillon developed his screenplay over a six-month series of workshops with preschoolers, and while his film effectively evokes the alternating solicitude and pettiness of their world, there's no payoff for enduring it.

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  • Released: 1996
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: The world through the eyes of 4-year-old Ponette (Victoire Thivisol), who's just survived the car crash that killed her mother: How can the view seem so muted and flat? We first meet Ponette in the hospital, then join her as she drives through the country… (more)

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