The Innocents (2016, aka Les Innocentes)


In Poland right after World War II, a French physician (Lou de Laage, The Wait) discovers a Catholic convent filled with pregnant nuns.

Reaction & Thoughts:

Anti-war drama meets Agnes of God. Gripping, absorbing, heartbreaking and nuanced war movie inspired by true events. The Innocents (aka Les Innocentes) strikes a perfect balance between harsh realism and unshakable hope.

 Sensitively directed by Anne Fontaine (Coco Before Chanel and Chloe) from a screenplay by Fontaine, Sabrina B. Karine, Pascal Bonitzer and Alice Vial, The Innocents is not really about religion and/or faith. This is about how crisis brings out the best/worst in people. It also deals with the consequences of war.

Most fascinating is how the movie tells the story from the point of view of two opposites: the agnostic physician is pitted against the convent’s most outspoken nun (Agata Buzek, 11 minutes) — it’s a battle royale between agnosticism and theology. The strong-willed women are slowly forced to meet in the middle, making a not-so-subtle point that wisdom lies between two extremes.

There is also one great twist near the end of the movie — it’s one of those revelations that pulls the rug from under the audience’s feet.

The leading ladies — de Laâge and Buzek — are superb. They are great adversaries. Their scenes together are charged with energy and intelligence. Also starring Agata Kulesza (The Mighty Angel) as Mother Superior, Joanna Kulig (Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters) as Sister Irena, and Vincent Macaigne (Eden) as Samuel.

Conclusions & Final Thoughts:

This French-Polish-Belgian co-production raises important ethical questions. The fact that the film is based on actual events only adds to its greatness. The Innocents is a harrowing, unforgettable movie, definitely one of the best films of 2016. Highly recommended! Color, 115 minutes, Rated R.


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