Title: Les Innocentes (The Innocents)
Director: Anne Fontaine
Starring: Lou De Laâge, Agata Buzek, Agata Kulesza, Vincent Macaigne, Joanna Kulig and Eliza Rycembel
French director Anne Fontaine adapts a true story about the frailty of faith, exploring with powerful delicacy the human condition. Les Innocentes (The Innocents) is set in Poland in 1945. The magnetic Lou De Laâge is Mathilde Beaulieu, a young French Red Cross doctor who is sent to assist the survivors of the German camps. During her medical mission she discovers several nuns in advanced states of pregnancy during a visit to a nearby convent.
The discreet representation of the excruciating calvary of these innocent women is revealed in the details. The expressions of their faces hold in emotion, rather than flaunting out their pain. Mathilde unwillingly and unknowingly serves as their corrective Deus Ex Machina: she doesn’t share their point of view, nor tries to change it. But her compassionate pragmatic help will provide the nuns with an entirely different perspective. Hence, the Agnus Dei concept is subverted in an atemporal dimension. The Lamb of God cannot require the sacrifice of a mother to abandon her child, merely to prevent a scandal.
The film is an efficacious reflection on the way disobedience is sometimes necessary to save lives. Obedience would impose the nuns to abide by the orders of their Mother Superior, just as much as Doctor Beaulieu would not be allowed to secretly help the benedictines in labour. Thus, the question of what we believe in becomes ambivalent for the religious as much as the secular.
Faith has a fluctuating nature that is shadowed by doubt, that makes us take a distance from dogmatism. Anne Fontaine, as a non-believer, creates an incredibly Christian story which is healing for the institution of the Church.
Written by: Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi