Ponette (1996)

PonetteWhen her mother dies in a car accident, 4-year-old Ponette (Victoire Thivisol) is left physically and emotionally scarred and in the care of her grief-stricken father. Sent to live with family for a while, Ponette sullenly navigates a world made up mostly of children’s faces and slowly comes to terms with her loss. Thivisol’s powerful, haunting performance earned her a Best Actress award at the Venice Film Festival in 1996.

Starring: Xavier Beauvois, Matiaz Bureau Caton, More

Director: Jaques Doillon

Genre: Foreign

Format: Full Screen, More

Language: French

Subtitles: English

This movie has a unique feel that you might even find hard to get used to at first. If that happens, keep watching, you’ll get used to it! Our lead character Ponette is the daughter of divorced parents and is being raised by her mother. Sadly, the father has little to do with his daughter. Early in the film there is a car accident and Ponette’s mother does not survive, which of course leaves the ill-equipped father in the parenting position. Sounds depressing? Wondering why do I want to watch this? Here’s why.

What follows the death of Ponette’s mother is the little girls journey through countless and contradictory answers to her questions about where her mother is and when and if she’s coming back. The answers she is given, leaves her with a confused set of ideas regarding God, heaven, life, love, and death. What makes this film so brilliant is that it is shot almost entirely from the child’s perspective. A child has not yet been conditioned to be skeptical. They simply accept everything they hear as true, and then seek to experience that truth.

In experiencing Ponette’s confusion caused by the broad range of answers to the questions that she asks, we are reminded that our minds decide what anything that we hear or experience means, by comparing it to what we have heard or experienced before. Ponette is asking the deepest questions of life at a very tender age. Her pure heart only knows how to trust so, so she takes the answers to her questions to heart and seeks to validate the answer in her experience of trying to understand where her mother went.

All along the way people spill their truths on this little girl, who desperately need answers to the biggest questions there are in life. And their truths are nothing more than something that they heard somewhere else. Watching this happens to this little girl made me think, how much of the truth that exists in our minds is little more than that same kind of hearsay? It is difficult, it seems, for people to say, “I don’t know”. Does it say something about us if we don’t know something? Are we somehow less than someone who does? And if that goes on long enough, does just thinking that we know, or appearing to know, to others, become the goal rather than actually seeking to develop an understanding about profound things?

Here’s an alternative to answering a question with what we think we know. Say that we don’t know. By saying we don’t know, the mind becomes quieter because it is not so busy rendering its opinion! In that quiet is where we can find the connection to source. It is the same place that we go during meditation, or when communing with nature! By connecting to source we are open to inspiration, inklings, intuition and wisdom beyond the limits of the mere contents of our memory. By saying I don’t know, I am open to the infinite possibilities rather than limited to the one answer that my mind serves up, as the truth, when asked a question by another. If we then take into conversation, the inklings, the inspirations and the ideas or concepts that come to us in the quiet, we have an opportunity to explore a question together, to seek an answer that gives us real understanding and mutual benefit. In short to come up with an answer that serves us, rather than one that just sounds familiar.

In that scenario, Ponette with her open child’s mind would teach as much as she would learn about the questions she is asking. She would learn by example and experience how to plug into the greatest source of information that there is. One that is available to all of us all of the time. She would learn to embrace uncertainty as the doorway to infinite possibilities, rather than the limits of the known. Her conditioning would position her for lifelong access to the true wisdom that manifests all that there is. including ourselves.

I loved this film. And marvel at the ability of young Victoire Thivisol to carry me away on her journey.

Rent it today from your local video store, or try Netflix and have this movie delivered to your mailbox in just a couple of days! It’s free to try and cheap to join!

Popcorn!  Don’t forget the popcorn!

Remember, you are what you watch! Mark Firehammer