Monthly Archives: June 2016

Film Review: The Innocents

Film Review: The Innocents

Anne Fontaine’s film The Innocents is a thought provoking, often disturbing film. Although it is inspired by real events, some parts of the narrative are fictitious. The film takes place in December 1945, but the issues it raises about belief and devotion to duty will resonate with people of faith today.

In the opening scenes, a nun convinces Red Cross doctor Mathilde Beaulieu (Lou de Laâge) that someone at the convent needs immediate medical assistance. Mathilde is stunned to find one nun in labor and several more pregnant, the result of assaults by Russian soldiers. The Reverend Mother (Agata Kulesza, Ida), fearing her order will be dismantled, forbids any doctors but Mathilde and insists on complete secrecy.The Innocents Mathilde

Mathilde, who is a non-believer, finds herself frustrated at the restrictions placed on her by the Reverend Mother. At the same time, she becomes increasingly protective of the women under her care. Mathilde is powerless to treat the women’s sharp feelings of betrayal by the God whom they believed would watch over them. Moving forward from those feelings takes place a little differently for each woman affected.

The writing credits for The Innocents are a real labyrinth. Phillipe Maynial developed the original story, but Sabrina B. Karine and Alice Vial are credited with the screenplay. Beyond that, Fontaine and Ascal Bonitzer receive credit for “adaptation”.The Innocents Service

However you want to parcel out the writing credits, this is very much Fontaine’s project. She learned about Madeleine Pauliac, Chief Doctor of the Warsaw French Hospital during World War II, and decided to make a film about her wartime experiences.

Fontaine felt drawn to this story because it was about motherhood and faith. To prepare for making the film, she went on retreats to get an idea of convent life. Fontaine had a special interest in the communal life of nuns, their need to constantly supervise their time, and their methods of dealing with crises of faith.The Innocents Nun & Baby

Even so, there are melodramatic moments in the telling of this story. The most grating is an incident that occurs at the film’s midpoint. I was not able to confirm the incident actually happened, so I am forced to conclude the writers thought it provided character development for Mathilde. The film quickly regains its footing, however.

De Laâge is terrific as Mathilde. You appreciate the conflicts of this woman, coerced into a difficult situation and growing in spite of herself. It is a beautifully nuanced performance. There is also good work by Kulesza and Agata Buzek (as Maria, a nun who becomes a confidante of sorts to Mathilde). Maria has the line that may come to be associated with this film: “Faith is twenty-four hours of doubt and one minute of hope.”The Innocents Mathilde & Maria

Theme: Faith Challenged

Related Posts: Film Appreciation: The Nun’s Story  http://www.thinkingcinema.com/film-appreciation-the-nuns-story/

Faith Challenged: List For Week Ending June 26, 2016 http://www.thinkingcinema.com/faith-challenged-list-for-week-ending-june-26-2016/

Film Appreciation: The Nun’s Story

Film Appreciation: The Nun’s Story

Audrey Hepburn called The Nun’s Story her favorite from her own films. It was a huge box-office success upon its release in 1959, and it racked up an impressive array of award nominations. Hepburn won best actress for the BAFTA, David, and New York Film Critics. (She was nominated for the Oscar, but lost toContinue Reading

Faith Challenged: List For Week Ending June 26, 2016

Faith Challenged: List For Week Ending June 26, 2016

This week’s films deal with believers encountering a crisis of faith. Some, like the nuns in The Innocents, have clear-cut reasons for their crisis of fatih. Others, like Andrei Rublev, are tortured by vague doubts. All seek resolution and redemption. This is not an all-inclusive list. Reader suggestions are welcome. If you know an addition toContinue Reading

Film Review: Septembers Of Shiraz

Film Review: Septembers Of Shiraz

Good Intentions Only Go So Far There are many reasons why I wanted to like Wayne Blair’s film Septembers Of Shiraz. An adaptation of the Dalia Sofer novel, it promised a look at the Iranian revolution from an insider’s point of view. Everyone involved with this film seems to focus on the humanitarian aspects ofContinue Reading

Film Appreciation: Doctor Zhivago

Film Appreciation: Doctor Zhivago

I’m coming full circle on David Lean’s 1965 film of Doctor Zhivago since my first viewing at age thirteen. We were studying the Russian Revolution in history class and, as a bit of serendipity, our local theater announced it would screen Doctor Zhivago. I happened to mention this to my dour piano teacher, who denouncedContinue Reading

Film Review: The Music Of Strangers

Film Review: The Music Of Strangers

“We don’t speak perfect English, or perfect Chinese, or perfect Persian, but we speak perfect music language.” Wu Man, The Silk Road Ensemble Many people, including Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, consider music the universal language of mankind. In 2000, cellist Yo Yo Ma put this theory to the test. Working with ethnomusicologist Theodore Levin, Ma selectedContinue Reading

Film Appreciation: The Commitments

Film Appreciation: The Commitments

CONTAINS PLOT SPOILERS Alan Parker’s film The Commitments has one catchy soundtrack. It is a smart, funny film with an appealing cast. You could say it is a gritty 1990s Irish version of the Mickey Rooney/ Judy Garland “backyard musicals” of the late 1930s and early 1940s. Protagonist Jimmy Rabbitte (Robert Arkins) lives on theContinue Reading

Highlights: Week Ending June 5, 2016

Highlights: Week Ending June 5, 2016

KEATON’S THE CAMERAMAN WITH LIVE ACCOMPANIMENT IN MCLEAN VA On Tuesday, June 7, McLean’s Alden Theatre will screen Buster Keaton’s 1928 masterpiece, The Cameraman. Film historian Bruce Lawton will host, and composter Ben Model will provide live musical accompaniment. This is an opportunity to see this film from the actual 16mm print used by WarnersContinue Reading