This French film is the kind of intimate drama that stops you in your tracks and leaves you marveling at the magnificence of the human soul. Four-year-old Ponette (Victoire Thivisol, a four-year-old actress who gives an incredible performance) has survived an automobile accident in which her mother was killed. Her father, who's devastated by the tragedy, is comforted by his daughter who says, "I'll make us feel better." However, he goes away on business and leaves Ponette with relatives. Her aunt tells her that her mother is with Jesus who rose from the dead. The little girl's young cousin states that the dead don't come back to life. Loyal to her mother, Ponette tries to bring her back with presents, prayers, and magic words. Then her atheistic father assures her that "God is for the dead and not for us."
At a summer camp Ponette meets a Jewish girl who puts her through a series of tests in order to prove herself to God and win his favor. The worst news comes from a nasty boy who tells her that she killed her mother by being a bad girl. All the while, Ponette endures in her belief that somehow she will see her mother again.
Writer and director Jacques Doillon has created a masterful study of childhood grief and the ways in which a sensitive and imaginative little girl tries to handle her deep feelings of loss. In the end, it is her own unique brand of faith that helps Ponette pull through this period of mourning. The film also reveals how important it is for adults to watch what they say and do in the presence of little ones because everything has significance to them. Ponette honors the resiliency and spirituality of children.