A four-year-old girl must come to terms with the loss of her mother and the reality of death in this award-winning French drama. Little Ponette (Victoire Thivisol) is riding in a car with her mother when they're involved in a serious accident; Ponette survives, but her mother does not.
Her father (Xavier Beauvois) initially reacts with anger over his late wife's careless driving, while her Aunt Claire (Claire Nebout) tries to comfort the child by telling her about Jesus and the resurrection. However, none of this does much to reassure Ponette or clarify her confusion about the practical realities and spiritual dilemma posed by death.
In time, Ponette and her cousins Matiaz (Matiaz Caton) and Delphine (Delphine Schiltz) are sent off to boarding school, where they have to resolve their confusion and loss on their own.
Writer and director Jacques Doillon carefully coached Victoire Thivisol (who was too young to read the screenplay) through her performance; the results earned the child Best Actress honors at the 1996 Venice Film Festival.