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Nadine Nortier, Jean-Claude Guilbert, Maria Cardinal, Paul Hebert, Robert Bresson

Robert Bresson directed this grim but moving story of a girl forced to grow up quickly due to the unfortunate circumstances which surround her. Mouchette (Nadine Nortier) is a fourteen year old girl l... read more read more...iving in a rural village in France; while it's the mid-1960's, in many respects her community looks as if it could still be World War II, or even the turn of the century, and a number of the men earn their living though poaching game. Mouchette's mother (Marie Cardinal) is slowly dying of an incurable illness, while her father (Paul Hebert) is a heavy drinker who shows little concern for his daughter, often using a hard shove as a parenting technique. Mouchette is an outcast at school, works odd jobs to help her family's meager circumstances, and has developed a thinly veiled contempt for most of those around her. One of the few places Mouchette feels at home is in the woods, and when a heavy storm breaks out while she's making her way home from school, she happens upon Arsene (Jean-Claude Guilbert), a poacher who allows her to stay in his cabin for the night; he forces himself upon her sexually, but after her initial resistance Mouchette seems to almost welcome his attention. When Mouchette is made party to an act of violence between Arsene and a rival gamekeeper, she's forced into a complicated lie, and after the death of her mother, her shabby existence becomes almost too much to bear. Based on a novel by Georges Bernanos, Mouchette was (like many of Robert Bresson's films) largely cast with non-professional actors, and shot using a deliberately simple, ascetic style; the result was honored with major awards at the Cannes Film Festival and Venice Film Festival, and was named Best Film of 1967 (along with Luis Bunuel's Belle de Jour) by the French Syndicate of Cinema Critics. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

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87% liked it

3,440 ratings


86% liked it

22 critics

Unrated, 1 hr. 20 min.

Directed by: Robert Bresson

Release Date: October 14, 1967

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DVD Release Date: January 16, 2007

Stats: 190 reviews


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Flixster Reviews (190)

  • April 22, 2010
    the refined essence of tragedy. so understated and unsentimental that i can only compare it to bu˝uel's los olvidados
  • February 13, 2009
    Isolation & desolation, people's cruelty & misjudges &.... , Well I can go on & on about this masterpiece's greatness but I don't think I can find the right words to describe it
  • fb1142797643
    December 27, 2011
    "Mouchette" is a tragic tale of an unappreciated adolescent girl. Call it the "Welcome to the Dollhouse" of its day, if you like.

    As usual, director Robert Bresson calls on amateur actors to execute his minimalist script. This does not come without a price -- star Nadine Nortier... read more's wooden qualities go beyond her emotionally numbed character, and whenever she's asked to cry, it's painfully obvious that a stagehand has squirted her cheeks with water.

    Fake tears and all, Nortier's Mouchette is an impoverished, abused girl around 14 years old. Her ragged pigtails alone are enough to draw our pity. Her mother is dying, and her father is a heavy drinker who traffics liquor. She works odd jobs for trivial wages. Thanks to her bedridden mother, she also is forced to care for an infant sister. Her dirty appearance and hand-me-down clothes earn her ridicule at school, and even her teachers don't like her. Her only happy moment during the film is some quick fun with a carnival bumper car -- she mischievously bonds with a boy driving another car, only to be snubbed once they exit and their gap in social class becomes clear. The girl can't catch a break.

    However, the story resists digging for easy pathos. Mouchette is far from likable. She is sullen, suspicious and uncommunicative. She wreaks petty revenge on her classmates by throwing mud clumps at them. And she's often rude to people who show her kindness. Moral principles aren't a luxury that she can afford. She's just trying to get through another miserable day.

    A crisis occurs when she witnesses a backwoods argument between a poacher and the local gamekeeper. The men are not only on opposite sides of the law but are courting the same woman. Mouchette is manipulated into supplying an alibi for a possible murder, and it's a safe bet that she'll regret being pushed into this dispute.

    "Mouchette" is a short feature that never wastes a beat. It does have plenty of stiff acting, as well as Bresson's dependable quirk of boosting incidental sound effects (poured liquid, crunching leaves, clinking bottles, especially footsteps) to maddening levels. Watching a Bresson film can be like listening to someone slurp his coffee. Luckily, the deft editing and cinematography are exquisite.

    Warning: Scenes with real-life hunting of rabbits and birds may offend sensitive viewers.
  • January 26, 2009
    To say this the easy way...Mouchette contains one of the greatest endings in the history of 7th Art.My oh my,and just for the theme of it,it goes on the 1967 best list.
  • July 31, 2008
    Creates such a strange, disturbing mood, but I enjoyed it.
  • April 22, 2010
    When I rented this last year from Hollywood Video it was three months overdue then they sent my $50 late fee to collections but I never paid it.
  • April 22, 2010
    Bresson does it again with this follow up to au hasard. a bleak film about alienation, despair, and the loss of innocence.
  • December 31, 2007
    'Twas a very Criterion Christmas this year (to my enjoyment.) Unfortunately since Christmas, I have only had time to watch one of these Criterions, but thank God it was Mouchette.

    Okay, this film is crazy short. I don't know why it took me so long. And I'm going to ... read moreput this out there. This is a depressing story. The entire time, the storyline just calls for this little girl to get shat on some more. Okay, not literally, but there is very little good that happens to this girl in this movie. Really, it is the honest portrayal of how society really breeds antisocial behavior. Everyone treats little Mouchette like crap, yet are always surprised when she acts out at inappropriate times? Her disappointment with life is only natural and makes darned sense.

    But more important than the storylines, in some ways, is the use of words in this movie. Dialogue really is minimal in this film, which makes everything said all that much more powerful. While I could guess that 50% of the things said in this movie are degrading and negative, it doesn't beat a dead horse simply because there isn't that much verbally expressed. Mouchette's intentional silence also makes her words powerful. When she is forced to sing, you see how much torment she is going through over a song (that wildly parallels her situation). Also, I love me some well delivered metaphors. But I hate poorly delivered metaphors. (For an example of a poorly delivered metaphor, watch George Romero's Land of the Dead when the money falls in front of the screen while a building burns. LAAAAAAMMMMEE!) Bresson really uses metaphor subtly and well with the beautiful dress on the thorns. It is in the close of the film, but that left me right in the perfect place to leave this story. It is well contained and well paced, with moments of absolute darkness. I applaud Robert Bresson for not spoonfeeding me most of the story and allowing me to absorb these horrible moments on my own.
  • January 30, 2007
    not exactly a feel good movie, but extraordinary. wonderfully filmed, the way people don't do any more.

Critic Reviews

Variety Staff
March 26, 2009
Variety Staff, Variety

Everyday incidents take on an almost spiritual intensity in Bresson's controlled and incisive direction and handling of the players. Nadine Nortier has the animal ferocity and gentleness needed for th... Full Review

Wally Hammond
June 24, 2006
Wally Hammond, Time Out

A magnificent and deeply rewarding example of Bresson's stripped-down methods of cutting and framing, sound and dialogue, performance and movement. Full Review

J. Hoberman
October 4, 2005
J. Hoberman, Village Voice

Like any genius, Bresson made rules in order to break them. Full Review

A.H. Weiler
May 10, 2005
A.H. Weiler, New York Times

In artistically pointing up their lack of understanding and affection for Mouchette, Mr. Bresson never fully lets a viewer in on details that would help him appreciate them, too. Full Review

Dave Kehr
January 1, 2000
Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader

It's a remarkable film: dark, compressed, shattering. Full Review

Brian Baxter
June 3, 2014
Brian Baxter, Radio Times

A documentary fidelity underpins Robert Bresson's rigorous, though accessible, adaptation of Georges Bernanos's novel. Full Review

March 5, 2013
Total Film

A work steeped in a profound sense of unfathomability, it's a perfect introduction to Bresson's utterly distinctive cinematic universe. Full Review

March 5, 2013
Empire Magazine

Mouchette is certainly sombre, but when the characters are finally released from suffering, they do achieve spiritual purity. Full Review

Josh Larsen
March 29, 2012
Josh Larsen, LarsenOnFilm

The exquisite balance of unadorned artistry and emotional intensity that defined Au Hasard Balthazar is less skillfully balanced here. Full Review

Laura Clifford
January 6, 2012
Laura Clifford, Reeling Reviews

In "The Tree of Life," Jessica Chastain's character notes that one can go through life in one of two ways - with grace or by nature. If the doomed cleric in "Diary of a Country Priest" was the exempla... Full Review

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