Nadine Nortier, Jean-Claude Guilbert, Marie Cardinal, Paul Hébert,
Also screens in In Focus: Robert Bresson
Mouchette is a visual study of a state of mind. Based on a book by Georges Bernanos (author also of The Diary of a Country Priest), it has affinities with Balthazar in its depiction of the limits of quiet suffering and humiliation a living being can endure. In a French village painted in all its charmlessness, fourteen-year-old Mouchette has been denied a childhood by an alcoholic father and a dying mother. Despised and rejected, she observes the adult world from a position of extreme isolation; like the donkey Balthazar, she has no language in which to express her despair. A measure of defiance is brought out in her complicity with the village poacher, Arsène, but he takes cruel advantage of her affection. This final lesson in the callousness of adults informs Mouchette’s first, and last, act of open rebellion, a pure, elegiac enactment of Bresson’s redemptive pessimism.