The Innocents: Film Review
Cast: Lou de Laage, Agata Buzek
Director: Anne Fontaine
The fact The Innocents (Les Innocentes) is based on a true story makes its harrowing nature, at times, a little harder to bear.
Set in post World War II Poland, the film concerns itself with the jaw-dropping horrifying events at a convent. Our heroine is young female French doctor Mathilde (de Laage), who's working with the Red Cross.
Asked to enter a nearby convent, she finds a young girl in labour - and from there, the situation starts to unfold in as much gripping as terrifying ways as it plays out.
With some striking imagery, the director of Coco avant Chanel, hides some of the horrific darkness on offer here; scenes of white crisp snow at the convent mask the true nature of what lies within. And from dawn prayers and hymns, the sound of a woman's cries is utterly shocking.
The sound in The Innocents is utterly mesmerising; from the sound of cloister bells ringing clearly out, to quiet moments within, the atmospherics are completely entrancing.
It's fair to say that what unspools in Les Innocentes is not the easiest of watches, but Fontaine sensitively handles the mix of sexual violence and unspeakable horrors in such a way, that what actually transpires is as powerful as it is difficult to view. If many question their faith in the film, undoubtedly others will question theirs with what plays out
This tightly written and prestigely-acted piece knows never to revel in its horrors, both that men do and the life post a war inflicts on others, but it also knows that the silent power comes from within.
So, with a respectful score, and a lack of overbearing bluster to push home its message, The Innocents emerges as something quite unusual - a film about a rare set of horrors that ends up being more moving than you'd expect given its deeply troubling and real subject matter.