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The Innocents 

Wednesday, Jul 6 2016
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The famous 1961 film The Innocents is about a governess who comes to believe her charges are possessed by ghosts. Anne Fontaine's 2016 film of the same name also involves women, children, and the supernatural, but from a very different angle. Mathilde (Lou de Laâge) is a young Red Cross doctor in Warsaw in December 1945 who is summoned to a Benedictine convent where several nuns are pregnant after being raped by Soviet soldiers. This horror is compounded by their religious belief that even a female doctor touching their body for the purposes of prenatal care will violate their vow of chastity and damn them to hell, and made worse by the reality that they'll be shamed and rejected if the outside world discovers they were raped. (Good thing the modern world is so much more sympathetic toward rape victims.) In addition to being a necessary portrait of the plight of women in post-World War II that can stand alongside Christian Petzold's Phoenix, director Fontaine's The Innocents is refreshingly poignant after the tired and pleasant sex-farce of her previous film Gemma Bovery. And if the conclusion of The Innocents is perhaps a skosh too pat and feel-good for what preceded it, it's not entirely unearned either.

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Sherilyn Connelly

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