Movie Review By Pete Dunn
At the age of seven, Shirley Temple garnered America's attention while singing the "Good Ship Lollipop." At the age of eight, Anna Paquin won an Academy Award for the portrayal of the daughter of a mute woman in "The Piano". Macaulay Culkin captured America's heartstrings as a young child accidentally left home by his parents during a Christmas trip. Well, OK, maybe Macaulay Culkin is overdoing it just a little.
Child stars have constantly captured America's attention, and the new French movie, "Ponette," written and directed by Jacques Doillon, centers around children. The star of the movie is four-year-old Victoire Thivisol who portrays Ponette, a young girl whose mother recently died in an automobile accident. Ponette refuses to accept the death of her mother, and stubbornly waits for her to come back.
The movie spends most of its time examining the beliefs and viewpoints of children on life, death, and daily existence. The examination of these topics by the children is the most fascinating part of the movie. In order to accurately convey the feelings and sentiments of four-year-olds, Jacques Doillon sent video crews all over France to ask young children their opinions of these topics. He then took the most outgoing and imaginative children and set up workshops for them. In these workshops Doillon set up skits and plays to develop a better understanding for the children's feelings. After completing the script, he cast the brightest and best children from the workshops for the film.
The emotional output of these child actors was incredible. Victoire Thivisol appeared in over 80% of the scenes, and swept me away with her emotional portrayal of a young girl in emotional turmoil. Most of the crowd reacted to Ponette's plight in a cathartic manner. Although there were a plethora of tears and sniffles from the women in the screening room during the more moving scenes, I wasnít as affected emotionally. Oh, and yes, I have cried through particularly touching shows such as "Les Miserables" when hearing the plights of Epinone and Fantine.
While the acting and psychological aspects were stimulating, I thought the plot was very weak and moved extremely slowly. For the middle part of the film, I kept waiting for the story to go somewhere, but it just stagnated -- until the end. The ending WAS creative and imaginative. It made the movie unique and salvaged it from being just an average film with interesting psychological and emotional profiles of children to being an interesting and imaginative movie choice.
© 1997 - Pete Dunn - Air Date: 05/97
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