For Reel

Mouchette (1967)
February 9, 2012, 12:38 am
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Robert Bresson

Often spoken of as one of Robert Bresson’s best, Mouchette is among the bleakest and most cynical films that this reviewer has ever seen. Over the course of the picture, the young girl of the title is humiliated, bullied, raped, and, in the end, finally succumbs to suicide. That the film is bleak is not an issue – after all, both Bresson’s The Trial of Joan of Arc and Au Hasard Balthazar present similarly cruel worlds that thoroughly victimize the protagonist – but Mouchette‘s moral failing is that the abuse doesn’t serve any other means, whereas Joan’s faith was the subject of her film, and Balthazar serves as a subject of allegory. Misery is not an invalid curiosity, certainly, but for a narrative to read as identifiably human, one must acknowledge the capacity within man for compassion, for instance. The first third of Mouchtte is so relentless in its torture of the girl that it rings as false – one feels so pummeled by the time that she is beaten after her only moment of happiness that all that is left to do as an audience member is laugh in submission. It is a well-made picture, certainly, however Au Hasard Balthazar is a far superior film about the same subject, one that presents a bleak portrait of humanity whilst allowing its characters their dignity and the courtesy of being loved.

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