Robert Bresson directed this grim but moving story of a girl forced to grow up quickly due to the unfortunate circumstances which surround her. Mouchette (Nadine Nortier) is a fourteen year old girl living in a rural village in France; while it's the mid-1960's, in many respects her community looks as if it could still be World War II, or even the turn of the century, and a number of the men earn their living though poaching game. Mouchette's mother (Marie Cardinal) is slowly dying of an incurable illness, while her father (Paul Hebert) is a heavy drinker who shows little concern for his daughter, often using a hard shove as a parenting technique. Mouchette is an outcast at school, works odd jobs to help her family's meager circumstances, and has developed a thinly veiled contempt for most of those around her. One of the few places Mouchette feels at home is in the woods, and when a heavy storm breaks out while she's making her way home from school, she happens upon Arsene (Jean-Claude Guilbert), a poacher who allows her to stay in his cabin for the night; he forces himself upon her sexually, but after her initial resistance Mouchette seems to almost welcome his attention. When Mouchette is made party to an act of violence between Arsene and a rival gamekeeper, she's forced into a complicated lie, and after the death of her mother, her shabby existence becomes almost too much to bear. Based on a novel by Georges Bernanos, Mouchette was (like many of Robert Bresson's films) largely cast with non-professional actors, and shot using a deliberately simple, ascetic style; the result was honored with major awards at the Cannes Film Festival and Venice Film Festival, and was named Best Film of 1967 (along with Luis Bunuel's Belle de Jour) by the French Syndicate of Cinema Critics.
by Mark Deming synopsis