From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Mouchette 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. "Mouchette" means "little fly" in French. It was entered into the 1967 Cannes Film Festival, winning the OCIC Award (International Catholic Organization for Cinema and Audiovisual).
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."
This is the tale of a young girl whose life is filled with tragedy. Mouchette (Nadine Nortier) lives in an isolated rural village with her alcoholic father and bedridden mother, where she is forced to take care of her infant brother and do all of the housework.
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 she strikes the correct note several times.
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. While agreeing to be his alibi, he subsequently rapes her, thereafter leaving for home upon sunrise humiliated by the experience. While later confronted about the fight that Arsène was engaged in, she tries to offer her agreed upon story, having to state reluctantly that she was at his 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 brought in by an elderly women who gives to her a dress for her to wear as well as a shroud to cover her mother upon her mourning. As she leaves, and being overcome by the disaster that has befallen her, she goes to a nearby lake, covering herself in the shroud and rolling herself into the water, effectively drowning.
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.
|Marie Susini||Mathieu's wife|
|Suzanne Huguenin||Layer Out of the Dead|
Mouchette is considered as one of the best of Bresson's films by critics.