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Ponette (1996)

Ponette is a four year old French girl with a broken arm, suffered in the car crash that killed her mother, an accident for which her at best insensitive father vocally blames his deceased wife. Played by the remarkable Victoire Thivisol, Ponette struggles to understand where her mother has gone as her father follows his inadequate explanations by then leaving her with an aunt who offers religious explanations and cousins who taunt her. Sent to a boarding school she encounters further religious reasoning from adults and the odd theology of her fellow students.

Because the story is told from a child's perspective and features either adults talking down to Ponette or children her own age sharing their garbled thoughts, the conversations about death and life and afterlife are not terribly meaningful. What carries the film are young Ms Thivisol and the unyielding faith of her character, in the midst of all this confusion, that her mother lives on...somewhere...somehow... Because Ponette's stubbornness is eventually rewarded some while find the resolution of the film entirely too hokey. But if you take the eternality of the soul seriously and can be moved by the humbling faith of a child you'll enjoy it.


Grade: (A-)


See also:

    -FILMOGRAPHY: Jacques Doillon (
    -INFO: Ponette (1996) (
    -FILMOGRAPHY: Victoire Thivisol (
    -REVIEW ARCHIVES: Ponette (1996) (
    -REVIEW ARCHIVES: Ponette (1996) (
    -REVIEW: of Ponette (James Berardinelli, Reel Views)
    -REVIEW: of Ponette (Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times)
    -REVIEW: of Ponette (James Bowman)
    -REVIEW: of Ponette (Jeffrey Overstreet, Looking Closer)
    -REVIEW: of Ponette (Christian Spotlight on the Movies)
    -REVIEW: of Ponette (Stephen Holden, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of Ponette (Kevin Thomas, LA Times)
    -REVIEW: of Ponette (SplicedWire)
    -REVIEW: of Ponette (Marjorie Baumgarten, Austin Chronicle)
    -REVIEW: of Ponette (Patrick Z. McGavin, Chicago Reader)