A few days ago I was describing this marvellous 1996 little film to a friend and promised to send a link to my review. Imagine my shock when I discovered that I have never written one. Shame on me!

Here goes:

This award-winning French drama focuses on a four-year-old girl who is in a car accident with her mother. The mother is killed but the little girl only suffers a broken arm. Her distraught father works a job that entails a lot of travel, consequently as soon as she is out of the hospital, he parks her with a benevolent aunt and two lively cousins, who are about her age.

When Ponette sleeps she dreams about her mother, but is grieved to learn that she can't "keep" her when she awakens. This prompts MUCH discussion with well-meaning folks, both children and adults, about what happens when a person dies.

Little Victorie Thivisol, who plays our eponymous and much-loved heroine, tries to cobble together some semblance of meaning out of these various religious beliefs, but still grieves. She withdraws from everyone and tries chanting, praying, confronting her fears, taking risks, anything that might bring her mother back.

Director Jacques Doillon does brilliant work with children. There is only one fleeting moment on a school playground where one of the extras seems a bit self conscious, otherwise these little actors are flawless, the script is authentic, and our little Ponette demonstrates a wrenchingly strong character.

I've owned this French DVD (English captions) for years, so it must be available from the standard outlets; it certainly deserves a look. You can't go wrong!
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Please watch this trailer:
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