Mouchette (pronounced: [mu.ʃɛt]) is a 1967 French film directed by Robert Bresson, starring Nadine Nortier and Jean-Claude Guilbert. It is based on the novel by Georges Bernanos. It was entered into the 1967 Cannes Film Festival, winning the OCIC Award (International Catholic Organization for Cinema and Audiovisual).[1]

Mouchette tells the story of a girl entering adolescence, the daughter of a bullying alcoholic father and ailing mother set in a rural French village. One stormy night Mouchette's world changes.

It is a coming of age film which Bresson portrays in his own unique style. According to Bresson, "Mouchette offers evidence of misery and cruelty. She is found everywhere: wars, concentration camps, tortures, assassinations."

The Criterion Collection DVD release includes a trailer for this film made by Jean-Luc Godard.


 [hide*1 Plot

Plot[edit source]Edit

This is the tale of a young girl whose life is filled with tragedy. Mouchette (Nadine Nortier), whose name means "little fly," lives in an isolated French village with her alcoholic father and bedridden mother, where she takes care of her infant brother and does all the housework.

The film opens with a gamekeeper, Mathieu (Jean Vimenet), watching a poacher, Arsène (Jean-Claude Gilbert), as he sets his snares in the sunlit woods.

Mouchette is first introduced at her school, in bedraggled clothes and oversized clogs, where she is mocked by her classmates and chastised by her teacher, first for refusing to sing, and then for singing off-key. To correct this, her teacher grabs her by the head, orienting Mouchette's ear toward the piano keys, while striking the correct note several times. Later, Mouchette throws mud at several girls in her class who run away.

Later, in a contrast to the misery of her daily life, Mouchette goes to the fair and rides on the bumper cars. She meets a young man who bumps his car into hers several times. She bumps into his a few times. Despite the physical shocks incurred upon her during the activity, Mouchette seems to overlook them, and even likes the young man. Afterwards her father abruptly intervenes, slapping her on the face before she can speak to the boy.

While walking home from school one day, she gets lost in the woods and must seek shelter in a nearby house when a fierce rainstorm falls. The owner of the house, Arsène, an alcoholic epileptic, fears he has killed a man with whom he had fought and attempts to use Mouchette as an alibi to disabuse him of the blame. After she agrees to repeat the story he gives her, Arsène rapes her. She runs into the woods to hide and at sunrise leaves for home, humiliated by the experience. Later in the day, when confronted about the fight in the woods, she tries to offer the agreed upon story, having to state reluctantly that she was at Arsène's house through the night because they were lovers.

Returning home and finding her mother's condition worsening, she attempts to assuage her fears by comforting her. When her mother eventually succumbs to this sickness, she is invited into the house of an elderly woman who gives her several dresses as well as a shroud to cover her mother upon her mourning. After Mouchette insults her and damages the elderly woman's carpet, she leaves where she goes to a nearby lake, covers herself in the shroud, rolls herself downhill into the water, and drowns.

Cast[edit source]Edit

[1][2]Mouchette stands at the gate of the rides of the fair, looking at the people in the rides.

Besides his preference for non-professional actors, Bresson also liked to cast actors he had never used before. The one major exception is Jean-Claude Guilbert, who had the rôle of Arnold in Au hasard Balthazar, and plays Arsène in this film.[2]

Actor Role
Nadine Nortier Mouchette
Jean-Claude Guilbert Arsène
Marie Cardinal Mother
Paul Hebert Father
Jean Vimenet Mathieu
Marie Susini Mathieu's wife
Suzanne Huguenin Layer-out of the Dead
Marine Trichet Louisa
Raymonde Chabrun Grocer

Critical Reviews[edit source]Edit

Mouchette is considered as one of the best of Bresson's films by critics. Sight & Sound's prestigious critics’ poll placed Mouchette in the top 20 in 1972.

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