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The Innocents Review

Innocence Lost

Most films about war deal with the actual combat and the psychological toll it takes on the combatants. We always learn about how men behave before, during and after the conflict. Women are usually relegated to sub-plots involving their taking care of men and the ramifications on their lives as a result of what the men have gone through.


Anne Fontaine's "The Innocents" examines a very different aspect of war, specifically how a group of women - in this case, nuns - are affected by the immediate aftermath of World War II swirling around their convent. 

Mathilde (Lou de Laâge) is a young doctor working for the French Red Cross around Warsaw. She and her fellow doctors are busy tending to the wounded at their station, but her personal mission is tossed in another direction when she comes into contact with nuns at a nearby convent. As troops from different countries pass through the nun's lives, they commit unspeakable acts. All of the nuns have been repeatedly raped and many are now pregnant. It's not difficult to understand the depth of the emotional distress the nuns are experiencing.





Even though Mathilde is breaking the rules of her unit of the French Red Cross, she has no choice but to sneak out whenever she can to go to the aid of the nuns. The nuns obviously are not prepared to undergo pregnancies and births. Mathilde guides them through it all and other problems arise where Mathide is their only source of outside help, until Samuel (Vincent Macaigne), a fellow doctor, joins her mission to help the nuns.

"The Innocents" keeps us almost totally contained within the lives of women. Aside from Samuel, the only other men we see are nameless and faceless. They only represent those who have done the irreparable damage to a group of nuns, and women in general. There are no simple resolutions offered, only people trying their best to put their lives back together, even if they can never be totally successful in their attempts. Ms. Fontaine makes no attempt to neatly wrap it up, but rays of hope do manage to shine through, allowing us to at least manage a small smile. Hopefully, "The Innocents" will not get lost in the crowd.

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