December, 1945 Poland. The brutal, blanched landscape has no intention of thawing, continuing to camouflage an isolated convent where atrocities have been initiated; piety butchered by unadulterated, unaccountable Russian soldiers.
Director Anne Fontaine’s formidable “The Innocents”, based on an actual event, challenges viewers to tread where sanctity has been annihilated, dehumanized by man.
The second world war is over and we visit the worst, egregious instance of “to the victors, go the spoils”. Catholic nuns, violated repeatedly, their “ innocence” slain, must contend with the aftermath, the birth of “the innocents”; their faith and the God they’ve held sacred in abeyance; psychologically, physically incapable of processing the horrific acts perpetrated upon them, they struggle with pain, angst beyond comprehension.
Lou de Laage, as Red Cross doctor, “Mathilde” gives a brilliant, subtle performance as the sole savior of these traumatized women; a nonbeliever, she shuns religion in the face of barbarism; reason, belief in an unseen deity, is a illusion her rationale cannot synthesize. Her discussions with worldly “Sister Maria” (Agata Buzek) are intensely thought provoking, garnishing points for both sides of the religious equation.
Mathilde assists “Samuel” (Vincent Macaigne) a Jewish doctor, (“they did not get all of us”) also her lover of convenience; a delicate balance simmers beneath the surface of “The Innocents” and the ubiquitous question “where was God?” when genocide was actualized, innocents savaged, and in the words of the late Elie Wiesel “where moments murdered my God and my soul and all my dreams turned to dust.”