Victoire Thivisol, Marie Trintignant
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY
Ever so often a film crosses your path that moves you beyond words...beyond logic...beyond any semblance of critical thought. "Ponette" is such a film. "Ponette" is the tale of a four-year-old struggling to cope with her mother's death...nearly alone, but always with such brilliant authenticity and innocence that I found myself in tears throughout the film. It is the innocence of this child that makes this film so powerful, challenging to watch yet impossible not to. This child is portrayed with stunning and simple brilliance by Victoire Thivisol, herself four-years-old when she made this film. Discovered by the co-writer and director, Jacques Doillon, Thivisol is utterly magnificent in a challenging, complex and demanding role. From her screen presence, to her body language to her language Thivisol nails this part so beautifully that one can't help but wonder about her own childhood. It is impressive also realizing this was Thivisol's first film appearance...most recently, she has appeared in 2000's "Chocolat." The supporting roles in this film are all strong, but the film clearly belongs to Thivisol. Yet, every character here is so clearly developed and wonderfully written that I came away from this film so completely enamored with all of them. There is much talk of today's talented teens, yet none of them could carry their weight among these child actors and actresses. Their chemistry, interactions and honesty within their roles is simply astounding.
"Ponette" is a French film with English subtitles...yet it is one of only 2 or 3 films where I completely forgot I was reading subtitles along the way. Those who wonder about the impact of loss on a child would be wise to watch this film. It is realistic, honesty and beautifully created. I consider this film a must see...period.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic