The Innocents (2016), Dir. Anne Fontaine

The Innocents (2016), Dir. Anne Fontaine
God’s help will not be enough.
— Mathilde Beaulieu, The Innocents (2016)

Stars: Lou de Laâge, Agata Buzek, Agata Kulesza, Vincent Macaigne, Joanna Kulig, Eliza Rycembel, Katarzyna Dąbrowska, Anna Próchniak, Helena Sujecka, Mira Maluszinska, Dorota Kuduk, Klara Bielawka, Pascal Elso, Thomas Coumans, Leon Latan-Paszek.
Director: Anne Fontaine
Screenplay: Sabrina B. Karine & Alice Vial.

How even when a woman has taken her vow to serve God cannot save her from men. How a woman's body can be used to sully her in shame and damnation. How the act of rape can forever change a woman when a man can just walk away. 

Poland, 1945 a convent of Benediction nuns are in seek of aid as one of there sisters goes into labour and must give birth to the child that has come from such rape. A reluctant French Red Cross Doctor, Mathilde Beaulieu (Lou de Laâge) helps deliver the child only to discover that not one but several nuns are now pregnant from a group of Soviet soldiers that raided their convent. Mathilde helps the nuns out in secret, not only so her superiors do not know she is helping non-French patients but also to keep the secret of the nuns so they do not live in shame and scandal.

It is a sobering tale but an important one to tell. It is a tale not just really of faith but true sisterhood. These nuns live together and must rely on each other and Mathilde is invited into their fold. She, a woman of communist backgrounds comes to see beyond the vale to the souls of these women and so do they. A comfort envelops you as you watch these women embrace one another, not only do they see beyond their beliefs but so do you as you watch their story. You see past religion and see a more humble story, the story of womanhood and what we must go through on a day to day basis. The one place you are sure you can escape and be of a world of just women is taken away by war and aggressive men. A sanctuary that has been tainted and done to women who never expected to have the burden of motherhood.

This film is beautiful in its story and its imagery. Snow does wonders to make a film feel present as you shiver along with the characters. The use of On the Nature of Daylight by Max Richter in the films finale really hits you in the feels as it heightens your awareness in both sound and visuals. And finally having to do the Bechdel test but in reverse is always a very real pleasure. This is a womens story about sisterhood and family, a truly beautiful thing indeed.

★ ★ ★ ★ 1/2