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September 5, 2010

Mouchette (1967)
Director: Robert Bresson
Actors: Nadine Nortier, Jean-Claude Guilbert, Jean Vimenet

mouchette_w320.jpg (320×180)

Synopsis: Mouchette (Nadine Nortier) is a perenially blighted girl in a provincial French community.

Review: While still another superb cinematic offering from Robert Bresson, Mouchette’s familiar climactic spiritual twist is less logical and well-executed than in previous masterpieces like Diary Country of Priest and Au Hasard, Balthazar. The tone of Mouchette seems unremittingly miserabilist, with the plot feeling too much like a sadistic mechanism propelling Mouchette towards her bleak and depressing final action. There is less nuance and grace than in the two previous Bresson features I mentioned, and it feels like Bresson is riffing on his pet themes and images (take the symbolism of the hunted animals), rather than scorching the screen with a fully-realised parable. That aside, Bresson’s technique is still exceptional, with his trademark command of sound (stillness contrasted with heightened natural effects) to the fore. Despite the dramatic weaknesses, the maturity with which Bresson deals with problematic themes like rape and murder is masterly. By filming his narrative without punctuation or rhetoric, the inherent ambiguities and complexities of such actions are emphasised. (October 2009)

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