‘The Innocents’ Shows a Harrowing Crisis of Faith Following World War II


It’s safe to say that any movie taking place in Poland during 1945 isn’t exactly going to be a happy or uplifting story. After all, the events surrounding the events of World War II are among the darkest chapter in all of human history. The atrocities didn’t just end after the fall of Berlin and the death of Adolf Hitler; food was scarce, people were desperate, and the aftermath would lead to a continent divided as the Soviet Union seized territory across the region. The new film from Anne Fontaine, The Innocents, tries to find some glimmer of hope and humanity in the aftermath of the war, focusing on a covenant of nuns that have become pregnant following their brutal rape at the hands of the Soviet forces who controlled Poland falling the demise of the Third Reich. It’s a film that is all at once a heartbreaking drama, a deeply moving examination of faith, and a condemnation of unwavering dogma in the face of the most extreme circumstances.

Working as a doctor for the French Red Cross, Mathilde (Lou de Laâge) isn’t a religious person, raised by a working class family of Communists. One evening, Mathilde is frantically summoned to a local convent by a nun that demands only a French doctor see another ailing nun. Upon arriving, Mathilde is shocked to discover a young nun, Zofia (Anna Próchniak), in the midst of childbirth. After helping the young girl give birth, Mathilde is informed by the convent’s leader, Mother Mère Abesse (Agata Kulesza), that a number of the nuns are pregnant following a mass sexual assault by the Soviet soldiers. Working in secret from her supervisor Samuel (Vincent Macaigne), with whom she sometimes sleeps with, Mathilde provides medical aid to the pregnant nuns. The newborn children are found homes by Mother Mère, and the convent is able to keep up appearances and avoid any potential shame in their community. But the horrific nature of the crimes committed upon them and the deceitful manner with which it must be covered up causes a crisis of faith for one nun, Maria (Agata Buzek). Yet in these trying moments not everything is exactly how it seems.

The Innocents is a multi-layered moral dilemma as crafted by screenwriters Pascal Bonitzer, Sabrina B. Karine, Alice Vial, and director Anne Fontaine (based on a story by Phillipe Maynial). On one hand, there’s the dilemma for Mathilde in setting aside her own apathy and condescension towards matters of faith while still maintaining her duties as a doctor. Lou de Laâge gives a strong performance that captures all of these aspects of the character and her dilemma, often without having to say a single word. Meanwhile, the nuns of the convent are dealing with a much more complex moral quandary. Aside from the personal struggle of dealing with sexual assault, these are women who live in fear of being shamed and shunned by their community for a crime that committed upon them. They also live in fear of damnation, as if their assault has left them in violation of their vow of celibacy. Of all the moral dilemmas presented in the film, none is as shocking and unsettling as the one that faces Mother Abesse, one that is best left unspoiled. What it comes down to is the fact that Mother Abesse adheres to her religious dogma despite its personal consequences.

Visually, The Innocents is presented in a very understated manner, which is not say that the cinematography by Caroline Champetier isn’t always in service of its story – it is. The colors are muted and cold like Polish winter, and the camera slowly glides when following its subjects as if it’s an ethereal eye. Traversing the corridors of the convent Fontaine and Champetier craft a collection of eloquent compositions that reflect the fraught nature of its characters in a time when humanity seemed on the brink of collapse.

The events that unfold in The Innocents are heartbreaking in their content and striking in their execution. It’s not often that a film can juggle so many various aspects of a moral, religious, and personal dilemma and not feel like it has left anything underserved, but that’s exactly what Anne Fontaine does with The Innocents. Despite all of its tragedy, there’s still a silver lining attached to its ending. In the end, The Innocents is really about trying to retain that grip on humanity and compassion in the most grotesque of circumstances. Some succeed, some fail, because whether they’re donning a nun’s veil or a doctor’s stethoscope, they’re just flawed humans trying to make the most of whatever situation they’ve been placed in. Faith can be lost and restored, our humanity cannot.

The Innocents opens on July 1, 2016 at The Landmark in West L.A. and July 8, 2016 at Laemmle’s Town Center 5 in Encino, Laemmle’s Playhouse 7 in Pasadena and Edwards Westpark 8 in Orange County.

Shop Deadpool tees in our officially licensed Marvel store!

Leave a Reply

Animation/Anime Interviews Animation/Anime News Animation/Anime Reviews Film/TV Interviews Film/TV News Film/TV Review
The Trip to Spain
Now on Blu-ray: Another Delicious and Delightful Journey with ‘The Trip to Spain’

Who could’ve guessed in 2010 that an improvisational comedy with Steve...

With ‘Wormwood’ Errol Morris Once Again Redefines Documentary Filmmaking

What is truth? Is there such a thing when dealing with...

Last Jedi Press Conference
How Does ‘The Last Jedi’ Differ From ‘The Force Awakens? Rian Johnson and the Cast Explain

A little over a week ago, at an undisclosed location in...

Enabled Gaming Gaming News Gaming Reviews
Laser League
These Lasers Cut Straight to the Chase – Laser League Impressions

Don’t blink for a second or you’ll be destroyed by a...

A Way Out
A Way Out is a Game That Truly Understands Co-Op Gaming

EA and Hazelight announce a Friends Pass Free Trial for co-op...

Jupiter and Mars
[PSX] Explore the Technicolor Apocalypse with Jupiter and Mars

I know it’s wrong, but Jupiter and Mars kind of makes me...

Comic Creator Interviews Comic/Graphic Novel News Comic/Graphic Novel Reviews Manga News Manga Reviews Novel/Novella Author Interviews Novel/Novella News Novel/Novella Reviews
‘The 49th Key’ is a Familiar Story Told with Soul

Title: The 49th Key Written by: Erika Lewis Art by: J.K....

Tick Tock, Tick Tock, the ‘Doomsday Clock’ is about to Strike!

Title: Doomsday Clock #1 Writer: Geoff Johns Artist: Gary Frank Colorist:...

viz media
Viz Media Digital Manga Update for November

TLDR Viz Media announced its digital manga update for November will...

Apparel/Personal Maintenance News Apparel/Personal Maintenance Reviews Entertainment Product News Entertainment Product Reviews Food/Beverage Reviews Hardware News Hardware Reviews Mystery Box News Mystery Box Reviews
Dexcharge Power Bank Review
The Power to Catch Them All – Dexcharge Power Bank Review

GGTR Game Series Power Banks ensure you have the power, and...

Manga Spice Cafe Box Review
A Taste of Summer in Japan – Manga Spice Cafe Box Review

Get a taste of summer in Japan with the specially curated...

Manga Spice Cafe
A Little Taste of Japan in a Box – Manga Spice Cafe

If you’ve ever wondered what Japanese People snack on while they...

Arena Football Automotives MMA, Kick Boxing & Boxing Professional Wrestling
AXS TV Closes NJPW’s ‘G1 Climax 27’ With Four Episodes From The Final Weekend Beginning Friday Oct. 13

Los Angeles, CA (Oct. 11, 2017) – “Rainmakers” and “High Fly...

New Japan Pro Wrestling’s Rocky Romero has created an auction to raise money for UNIDOS por Puerto Rico Disaster Relief

I’m The costume was worn by Rocky during the final Roppongi...

Douglas Lima Defends his Bellator Welterweight Title Against Rory MacDonald at the Forum on 1/20

LOS ANGELES – One year removed from its previous event at...

Adult Continuity Comics on the Can Cultural Junk Drawer Future Comic Rock Stars Is That Racist? Revisiting the Reviled THAT'S NOT ROTTEN! The B-Reel The Cantina Scene This Week in Crowdfunding What the HELL Did I just...?
Samo Says: Star Wars – The Last of My Patience

When I was a child, I loved Star Wars. I had...

batman ninja
Is That Racist? – Batman Ninja Trailer

Nope, this is not a joke. Set to release on DVD...

Cultural Junkdrawer ‘Avengers Infinity War’: Analysis, Conjecture and Outright Lies

AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR Analysis Conjecture Outright lies   A nearly second...

Event News Event Reviews
dough bar
The Dough Bar and the Protein Donut

Created by Marquez and Ondrea Fernandez, The Dough Bar Doughnuts are...

Improve Sleep and Performance with TrueDark

TrueDark by Biohacked aims to improve your sleep, performance, and health by...

Pyramid Escape Room Review
Escape Room LA’s The Pyramid Escape Room Review

Overview of The Pyramid Escape Room The Pyramid Escape Room, Escape Room...

Gaming Uncensored Toon-In-Talk
Gaming Uncensored: Year in Review 2016

A look back at the year in gaming.

Gaming Uncensored Roundtable: December 2016

December’s roundtable discusses story in games with Chad, Josh, and Spencer....

Gaming Uncensored: Podcast #349

Jamie reflects on some of his time with the HTC Vive....

Music Interviews Music News Music Reviews
Rising Country Music Artist Kaylin Roberson Talks About her work with St. Jude

Kaylin Roberson is a singer, songwriter and pianist from Raleigh, North...

MTV Unveils Performers for ‘TRL Live’ on October 3rd at 3 p.m. E.T.

NEW YORK, NY (September 26, 2017) – MTV today announced that...

Long Beach Punk Band ‘Spider’ Rocks ‘It’s Not Dead’ Festival

Spider is a heavy hitting punk band out of Long Beach,...