Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 7.5/10
Cast: Lou de Laâge, Agata Buzek, Agata Kulesza, Vincent Macaigne, Joanna Kulig, Eliza Rycembel, Katarzyna Dabrowska, Anna Próchniak, Helena Sujecka, Mira Maluszinska, Dorota Kuduk, Klara Bielawka, Pascal Elso, Thomas Coumans, Leon Latan-Paszek
Not every story from the despair of World War Two has been told, not every action and reaction has been explored; however The Innocents seeks to address part of that by showing a world far removed from Julie Andrews singing the joys of spring as she wanders the hillsides in Germany-annexed Austria. Not every story has been told but there are some that you cannot help but wonder how they stay hidden for so long and the barbarity of some actions live long in the shadow, the stain of humanity.
The treatment of the film is slow, something that cinema goers might find testing on their patience, however like many scenes in the film attest, it is a reflection of the state of the times that the nuns, and the Polish people found themselves in after World War Two. A proud race of people that had been subjected to twin invasions, one from the Fascists and then one from the Communists, it is a reflection that this country perhaps more than other suffered such hardships from the soldiers of both ideologies and the starkness, the taking off time suggests that these people were left in a limbo during and after the war.
The Innocents is not the best film set in the days after the end of World War Two but it is nonetheless interesting, the different perspective on what counts as murder in the eyes of one’s god, the twin assaults forced on the women in the convent and that of those sworn to protect life. It is very much a film of dichotomy, of release, bottled anger and there are moments in which the viewer will feel more like a voyeur, allowed to peek behind a curtain, a stone wall, that by all due consideration has no right to be seen.
A film to add to the collection of those that keep a count of the horrors of war, a film that is as unrelenting in its forcefulness as it is bleak and one that will keep hammering home the point that in war, not everything is black and white and to think so is a bad mindset to get into.
Ian D. Hall