Ponette [1996]

l_117359_e419e174“She told me to learn to be happy.”

Director : Jacques Doillon

Writer : Jacques Doillon, Brune Compagnon ( scenario collaborator for first draft)

Cast : Victoire Thivisol, Delphine Schiltz, Matiaz Bureau Caton, Leopoldine Serre

Story : Ponette’s mother was speeding even though she wasn’t late from anywhere, she wasn’t in a rush or anything, she just went too fast. This is how Ponette’s father explains to the little girl why and how her mother died. The movie is a this kid’s journey to understanding and accepting the fact that her mother is not coming back.

What I Liked :

– I feel the most important fact to highlight are the children. All the children involved in this movie were extremely talented. Even if the movie

– I think the director made an insightful look into a child’s mind who just lost her mother. It seems so natural the way she goes through the process of realizing and understanding what death means.

– I would recommend this movie to psychology students since it offers a great illustration of the staged of grief (Kübler-Ross model) : at first it seems like she doesn’t understand that death is irreversible and definitive, then she withdraws from everybody, tries magic tricks, prays to God and so on.

– one more important fact: Victoire Thivisol (Ponette) was only 4 years old when this was filmed. I don’t know how many candies the director had to promise her for a take, but it worked.

– the French countryside is marvellous, I would love to get lost there with a bagpack

What I Didn’t Like :

 I have to admit I was bored, extremely bored throughout the whole movie, I am not a religious person so that could have been a contributing factor since God is a major theme in this movie. But this sounds so stupid and I’m afraid it’s gonna be misinterpreted a bit, but I ask you to don’t , and then again not a parent either, no family members died while I was little so it was hard for me to connect with Ponette. I don’t think this will be the case for everybody. I was just searching for the reason I was left unimpressed and these were the ones that came to mind, since I can see how greatly crafted this little gem is.

Final Note :

3 out of 4

Interesting Facts :

The magic spell the kids say, “Ta’ali Takum”, is actually the “Talitha koum” of Jesus. In Mark 5:41, Jesus says the phrase “Talitha koum” (Aramaic for “Little girl, get up”) to a dead girl, when he resurrects her. (imdb)

– Victoire Thivisol won the Best Actress award at the Venice Film Festival

Trailer :

don’t ask me why it doesn’t have sound

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5 thoughts on “Ponette [1996]

  1. This reminds me of Japanese movie Maboroshi, which is about a widow who deals with the wake of her husband having committed suicide. That is also a movie where you really need to be in the right mindset to appreciate it as it moves at a very deliberate pace.

    • don’t know why but the first thing that popped into my mind was Okuribito. Somehow I found that asian movies (the more serious ones ) need a kind of mood to be fully appreciated/understood. Maboroshi does sound good, but hard at the same time, although I love movies dealing with suicide. Thanks for a great rec again.

      • Maboroshi IS a hard movie. Fine, fine movie, but I actually needed to see it a second time before really “getting” it. I found the issue is that it is really easy to overthink the movie, when really you’re supposed to just immerse yourself in the emotions.

        Okuribito is probably my all time favorite Japanese movie, but it’s a completely different flavor from Maboroshi. Okuribito was ultimately very much a feel-good movie which Maboroshi wasn’t.

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