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Critics reviews
Mouchette
Robert Bresson France, 1967
Thought second viewing (April 2014) would set me straight, but in fact it just confirmed my opinion. Early scenes are indeed the best, village life thrumming like a Bresson JOUR DE FETE, but his editing techniques muddle geography and his ideas – esp. the dying victim mother – are often thunderingly banal.
June 21, 2014
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The bleakest of Bresson’s meditations on misery, MOUCHETTE feels every bit the logical extension of his previous AU HASARD BALTHAZAR, but here with specific focus on the realm of human suffering.
February 03, 2012
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Mouchette, and maybe all Robert Bresson’s inexhaustible, majestic films, transpire in that puzzling space “between,” that incalculable “lifetime.” How, for instance, does a director as visually acute as Bresson and so insistent on “the resources of cinematography and the use of the camera to create” also imply the urgency of the unseen, the ineffable, the otherworldly?
January 16, 2007
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In Bresson’s no-nonsense hands, this grim fable becomes a pantomime stations of the cross, so completely focused on sensuous details, ethical interrogation and the fastidious lasering-away of movie bullshit (like acting and action) that it comes close to the simple thrust of a medieval Christian icon. That the film is a saint’s passion doesn’t mean it’s overtly Christian — Bresson is far less a spiritualist than a precision pragmatist, with a holy man’s crystal-clear moral vision.
January 15, 2007
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The film’s final movement, following the heroine through her last morning, might be called “The Passion of Mouchette”—it ends on a note that is at once utterly inconsequential and irrevocably final. As always, Bresson signifies rather than dramatizes action. The filmmaker professed to hate theater, and yet in Mouchette, the world itself is a mystical stage. Like any genius, Bresson made rules in order to break them.
September 27, 2005
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The film perfectly captures Mouchette’s troubled existence. It is somewhat less effective in expressing the momentousness of what happens to her over the stormy night (maybe Bresson’s style is limited in some contexts?), but it is still a painful and moving film, probably Bresson’s most conventional and accessible (along with A Man Escaped).
June 07, 2000
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It is the job of Bresson, as a religious artist in a secular age, to increase our sense of awe, by the shaping power of art, and intensify the presentiment of destiny, just as it is our job, as cinephiles, to go to Bresson, among others, to feel that there is some reason and design behind suffering incomprehensible as it may be in our daily lives.
January 01, 1999
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Bresson’s use of spare and minimal camera work serves a greater purpose than to merely provide a signature style. From the extreme close-ups of the opening scene, showing only Arsene and Mathieu’s (Jean Vimenet) eyes, to the headless shots of people in the bar, Bresson creates a metaphor for the fractured soul. Mouchette is profoundly alone, incomprehensibly searching for connection and acceptance, but is answered with betrayal and violence.
January 01, 1999
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Christian and sadistic," Jean-Luc Godard intoned archly in the trailer he created for the film, but the darkly sublime Mouchette is a partially heretical and a deeply moving work of art. Rigorously unsentimental but not at all ruthless, it is a film of unsparing empathy.
January 01, 1995
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This 1966 film is probably the most punishing and intense of Robert Bresson’s studies of modern martyrdom, a story of a teenage peasant girl whose experiences of the world lead her, irresistibly, to suicide. If you don’t know Bresson’s work, this isn’t the place to start (you may never go back), but it’s a remarkable film: dark, compressed, shattering.
January 01, 1980
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By any other standards than Balthazar, Mouchette is a masterpiece: a Bresson film pure and simple with its extraordinary correspondences between sound and gesture to evoke the unspoken and the unseen. No one but Bresson, for instance, could have conceived that extraordinary dialogue between hands, veiled eyes and inanimate objects which pinpoints the triangle relationship between Arsène, Louisa and the gamekeeper.
January 01, 1970
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By about three-hundred miles the most touching and truly professional film in the festival… The film has apparently melted down to a short story, being adapted from a Bernanos novel, but it moves on about five levels.
November 01, 1968
Like Balthazar, Mouchette is a deeply pessimistic film which somehow leaves one in a mood close to exhilaration. It is conceived as a religious experience in which the heroine is not a saint, and in which there is no conventional religious reference. But Bresson’s celebrated austerity has taken a slightly new direction in his two latest films : he has come out into the French country landscape… Mouchette produces the quite extraordinary sight of a Bresson character driving a dodgem car.
March 21, 1968
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