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Original title
Innocence (L'école)
Running time
111 min.
France France
Lucile Hadzihalilovic (Novel: Frank Wedeking)
Richard Cooke
Benoît Debie
Co-production France-Belgium-United Kingdom-Japan; Ex Nihilo, CNC
Drama. Mystery | Schools & University. Childhood. Friendship
Synopsis / Plot
In a creaky, dark mansion, in the middle of an idyllic green forest encircled by a gigantic stone wall, a group of very young girls gather around a coffin. Loosely adapted from an 1888 avant-garde novella, Innocence is set in a strange, dreamlike boarding school for girls. In this twisted fairy tale, everyone is dressed in white and the only adults are two severe teachers and a few old servants lurking in the shadows. No one is allowed to leave, or so it seems. The girls’ education consists solely of ballet and biology—they are being trained only to be pretty and to breed. They are also taught that “obedience is the only path to happiness.” If someone refuses to obey, they disappear in the middle of the night or are doomed to serve the other girls forever. This new feature from the partner and collaborator of Gaspar Noé is a coming-of-age story like no other. The film depicts a truly mysterious (and sometimes menacing) passage through adolescence with unsettling metaphorical implications. Lush CinemaScope imagery, stirring music by Janácek and Prokofiev and echoes of both Picnic at Hanging Rock and de Sade combine to make Innocence a penetrating and demanding new work.
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