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French theatrical Poster for Ponette
Directed by Jacques Doillon
Produced by Alain Sarde
Written by Jacques Doillon
Starring Victoire Thivisol
Claire Nebout
Music by Philippe Sarde
Cinematography Caroline Champetier
Edited by Jacqueline Lecompte
Distributed by BAC films (France)
StudioCanal (Worldwide sales)
Release dates
  • 25 September 1996 (1996-09-25) (France)
Running time
97 min.
Country France
Language French

Ponette is a 1996 French film directed by Jacques Doillon. The film centers on four-year-old Ponette (Victoire Thivisol), who is coming to terms with the death of her mother. The film received acclaim for Thivisol's performance, who was only four at the time of filming.


Before the film begins, Ponette's mother dies in a car crash, which Ponette herself survives with only a broken arm (she consequently must wear an arm cast). Following her mother's death, Ponette's father (Xavier Beauvois) leaves the young girl with her Aunt Claire (Claire Nebout), and her cousins Matiaz (Matiaz Bureau Caton) and Delphine (Delphine Schiltz). Ponette and her cousins are later sent to boarding school. There the loss of her mother, becomes even more harsh and painful when she is mocked on the playground for being motherless. [1] Not yet having come to terms with her mother's death, Ponette searches for her.[1] Ponette becomes increasingly withdrawn, and spends most of her time waiting for her mother to come back. When waiting alone fails, Ponette enlists the help of her school friend Ada (Léopoldine Serre) to help her become a "child of God" to hopefully convince God to return her mother. In the end, Ponette visits a cemetery and cries for her mother, who suddenly appears to comfort her and ask her to live her life and not be sad all the time. Her mother says she cannot keep coming back, so Ponette must move on and go be happy with her father. It is not clear to the audience whether this is intended to portray a "real" (within the film's "universe") supernatural event (previously in the film, Ponette had wished and prayed for them but none seemed ever to happen), or just something Ponette imagines, since no one else is present when the mother is shown (though again, earlier in the film we never saw anything that appeared to be imagined). However, it appears that her mother gives her a sweater that she did not bring to the cemetery, and her father comments when he sees her that "I haven't seen that sweater in a while".



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