The Innocents Movie Review
Haunting and powerful, The Innocents is an absorbing drama about the consequences of war and the dangers of pride. Focused on a convent of nuns who were raped and impregnated as forces retreated in the wake of World War II, the French-Polish film ranks among the year’s better films.
Lou de Laâge stars as Mathilde, a French doctor in Poland who promises to keep the pregnancies a secret at the request of the convent’s Mother Superior, out of fear of dishonoring the nuns and shaming the convent.
Director Anne Fontaine (Coco Before Chanel) lets the power of the story speak for itself, opting for a very even-keeled and understated approach that allows her cast to flex their muscles. And flex they do, with de Laâge, co-star Agata Buzek and the rest delivering terrific, organic performances.
Fontaine’s approach does come at a disadvantage; as strong as most of the film is, she misses her opportunity to truly elevate The Innocents to the next level. The film’s big reveal is shocking but handled so similarly to everything else in the story that it doesn’t pack the emotional punch it so easily could have; even the nuns’ reactions to the revelation are muted.
And in the end, as good as The Innocents is, it’s hard not to have a somewhat muted reaction. It’s one of the better films of 2016, but had Fontaine been handled things a little differently, it could have been so much more.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.