Admittedly, it's hard for a tale of a six-year old girl coming to terms with her mother's death to seem much more than syrupy Shirley Temple tosh. But Director Jacques Doillon's sensitive-yet-confident directing saves Ponette from being too sombre or sentimental. Set against a backdrop of rural France, this is a poetic psychological study of a child's understanding of death and God.
Doillon depicts each nuance of Ponette's emotion with admirable honesty. And the four-year-old Thivisol's turn as the eponymous lead was so good that she bagged the best actress award at last year's Venice Film Festival. This is a picture that you'll remember more as an intimate encounter than as a mere 90 minutes of celluloid.