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Ponette (1997)

Victoire Thivisol , Delphine Schiltz , Jacques Doillon  |  NR |  DVD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (120 customer reviews)

Price: $64.97
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Product Details

  • Actors: Victoire Thivisol, Delphine Schiltz, Matiaz Bureau Caton, Léopoldine Serre, Marie Trintignant
  • Directors: Jacques Doillon
  • Format: Color, Dolby, Full Screen, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Fox Lorber
  • DVD Release Date: May 26, 1998
  • Run Time: 97 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (120 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 1572522747
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #109,667 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Ponette" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Live-action films about the very young are rare, and even more rare are such films that work as well as Ponette does, without cloying or pandering. The film stars 4-year old actress Victoire Thivisol as Ponette, who's lost her mother in a car accident. The rest of the film has her dealing with this loss, helped by relatives, but mostly by the other children she knows, and the help is sometimes heartening and sometimes hindering. The core events in the film are nearly all enacted by children, peers of Ponette. Sequenced as they are, they form what can only be termed the mythologies of childhood, using the contrast of childhood and death and the children's take on it to drive Ponette's changing attitudes. The result is seen passing across the face of Victoire Thivisol, one of the most luminous faces since Maria Falconetti in The Passion of Joan of Arc. Filmed cannily in close-ups, we're always privy to the artless emotions of the young girl. She's not old enough yet to have learned to dissemble. Her direct, unaffected performance (if that's what it is) draws us close in as few films have been able to do. If you're unaffected by this film, you might want to reconsider what kind of organism you'd like to be other than a human being. Victoire Thivisol was named Best Actress at the Venice Film Festival 1996. --Jim Gay

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
58 of 64 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ponette January 1, 2001
By A Customer
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Amazon asks us to rate the DVD, not the film, so here is my assessment. Anyone who is a fan of French film should stop buying DVDs produced by Fox Lorber. "Ponette" is produced by Fox Lorber, and once again the company has demonstrated it knows nothing about cinema as an art form and cares little about exploiting the inherent advantages of the DVD medium.
Originally shot in widescreen format, Fox Lorber has given us "Ponette" in reduced form (1.33 to 1). While many of the film's shots are close-ups, the reduced aspect ratio severely hampers the contrasting visual effect of the wide panoramic shots of the splendid lyonnais countryside.
In addition, Fox Lorber shortchanges foreign-film aficionados and language teachers by allowing no user control of the film's subtitles. Finally, this DVD lacks a chronometer (time remaining, time elapsed) for easy scene/shot retrieval. The "extras" Fox Lorber gives users are not worth mentioning, and were not worth the very tiny effort Fox Lorber made to include them.
In short, "Ponette" is a wonderful film that is definitely worth seeing (try renting it through Facets if your local video store doesn't carry it), but this Fox Lorber-produced DVD is definitely NOT worth spending your money on.
When Fox Lorber decides to start devoting care, effort, and money into its DVDs, then people should reward this through their purchases. Until then, as long as Fox Lorber gives us second-rate products, we should refuse to give them our money.
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Movie is great, but yet another poor DVD. December 18, 1999
I'll skip the movie itself review. You can easily tell that it's a great movie by all the other reviews. What I'll focus on is the DVD itself. One point for it is that it has a menu. It goes down hill there as the DVD only has Stereo sound. This might be due to the original's lack of budget but I began to wonder when I see this classic movie is only pan and scan. Fox/Lorber has seen fit to put hard subtitles whether or not we can understand French. This is a DVD which could have been a lot better. It's a shame that we get such great movies done in substandard DVDs. Bowfinger is going to be 16:9, Widescreen, and Pan&Scan; plus DTS sound & lots of extras. Couldn't Fox/Lorber have done this movie with at least a widescreen version and removeable subtitles? Look at A Better Tomorrow to see how good a foriegn film can be put onto a DVD. It's really a shame to have the shoddy DVD for such a fine movie. And it could have been so much more.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply the best film about children ever made. September 3, 1999
By A Customer
There are some great films about kids--Kolya, My Life As A Dog, The Grand Highway, Forbidden Games--and even some of the Disney films aren't bad, such as the remake of Parent Trap. Not to mention the Our Gang series and the Shirley Temple films, many of which hold up remarkably well. But Ponette stands by itself, as you can probably tell from the other reviews here.
One film buff told me it's the first movie she's ever seen that made her cry. Now by "cry" I don't mean you'll be dabbing at your eyes with a Kleenex or two. You're going to need the whole box. Seeing it with a friend? Get a second box. It doesn't even need the element of surprise. I've only seen it once, two years ago, in a theatre. You know how at the end of a film everyone gets up, yakking about where to go for a bite to eat and whatnot? At the end of Ponette all you could hear was sniffling. Unique in my theatre-going experience. Even now I can't talk about it without tearing up.
But please don't avoid it because you're afraid it will make you too sad. Ponette may break your heart but you'll be a better person for it, and you'll thank Doillon and Thivisol and the rest of the cast and crew and distributors for it. It's the kind of film that inspires kindness, not moroseness. Ever after, when you feel the urge to do something mean-spirited, you'll see Ponette's face and that may well change your mind. If this sounds a over the top you just haven't seen this film. The original purpose of art was to inspire people to live up to their society's ideals, and do it in an entertaining, compelling way. This does that in spades. I've read some reviews that called it slow moving, pointless etc. I feel sorry for those reviewers. You will too.
I'm also writing Fox/Lorber to beg them to reissue this on DVD in letterbox. I can't believe they'd think the kind of people who'd buy a DVD of Ponette are the sort of yahoos who'd want a third of the image cut away.
--Lee Thé
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magical June 28, 2005
I have agonized and agonized again over how to start a review of the French film "Ponette." Perhaps my difficulty stems from attempting to describe a film that falls outside my usual cinematic experiences. After all, a steady diet of slasher movies, out and out gorefests, and films dealing with the supernatural tend to erect certain barriers that can be daunting to circumnavigate. One should simply not look at "Ponette" in the same way one views "Friday the 13th" or "Dead Alive," and any attempt to do so does a grave disservice to this magnificent experience. And it is an experience, a film unlike any I have ever seen in my long career of cinema watching. I can't even remember now how I came to see this movie, whether I saw a review somewhere and thought it worth watching or whether a friend recommended the movie to me with the hope that I would abandon the world of cheap and cheesy horror flicks. Well, I haven't given up watching bad movies; I don't think anything could make me give up my nasty little hobby, not even a film as sublime as "Ponette." But this movie certainly gave me a different perspective, that's for sure.

When we first meet the adorable four year old Ponette (Victoire Thivisol), we quickly learn she has gone through a rough patch. She's in a car with her father, arm in a sling, heading out to her aunt's house for an indefinite stay. The conversation between Ponette her dad (Xavier Beauvois) is terse and upsetting: the girl's mother (Marie Trintignant) had an automobile accident with her daughter in the car. While Ponette escaped serious injury--aside from the broken arm--the prognosis for mom doesn't look so good. The accident is far more serious than we initially thought, so serious in fact that our young heroine soon learns her mother has died from her injuries.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Heart-wrenching, but ultimately uplifting.
Published 28 days ago by Gina Mancha
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful and sad
One of the best movies about a child who loses a parent. It's painful to see her initial attempts to cope, with insufficient emotional support. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Dr Doran
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best movies I've ever viewed
Beautiful. Heartbreaking. Cannot believe this movie isn't more visible. Have tissues readily available! Read more
Published 5 months ago by Barbara
This multi award winning French film is very hard to find on the internet on dvd. It deserves a Criterion release.The story is simple. Ponette's mother has died. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Peter M
5.0 out of 5 stars incredibly touching story
4 years old? Best actress in a film that year, my opinion. Such a different view of death and grief. Fresh, real, and so not American.
Published 5 months ago by mary brennan
5.0 out of 5 stars An incredible portrait of a child experiencing loss
Seen through the eyes of a young child whose life has radically changed following the death of her mother, this is not an easy movie to watch but an extraordinary film. Read more
Published 7 months ago by LisaD
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing
Amazing movie. Difficult to find as it is out of print. Great insight into depression and loss with early childhood population.
Published 9 months ago by Martin White
5.0 out of 5 stars Maybe the best movie ever.
This movie is one of the reasons why French movies are brilliant. This is a devastatingly beautiful movie. Read more
Published 13 months ago by samspennell
5.0 out of 5 stars Timeless Classic
This film really touched my core, I saw it on IFC channel and instantly fell for the the little girl's peril and was mesmerised by her performance. great DVD
Published 14 months ago by Brent C. Antoine
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece
This movie is a masterpiece! The storyline a remarkably poignant. Ponette (the actress)captivated me with her natural talent, having the skills and ability to convey sentiment to... Read more
Published on May 2, 2012 by Moiselle
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