THE INNOCENTS / Les Innocentes

West Coast Premiere • Drama • France, 2016

DCP • 1.85 • Dolby 5.1 • Color • 110 min

Directed by: Anne Fontaine
Written by: Pascal Bonitzer, Sabrina B. Karine, Alice Vial
Original Idea: Philippe Maynial
Cinematography: Caroline Champetier
Film Editing: Annette Dutertre
Original Score: Grégoire Hetzel
Produced by: Éric Altmayer, Nicolas Altmayer
Cast: Lou de Laâge (Mathilde Beaulieu), Agata Buzek (Maria), Agata Kulesza (Mère Abesse), Vincent Macaigne (Samuel), Joanna Kulig (Irena)
International Sales: Films Distribution • filmsdistribution.com
US Distributor: Music Box Films • musicboxfilms.com

Premiering at the 2016 Sundance Film festival under the original title Agnus DeiThe Innocents is a WWII film with a fresh, feminine perspective. Set in the ruins of 1945 Poland after hostilities have ceased, the drama unfolds in a Benedictine convent, where the sisters try to maintain a tenuous grip on their faith after the chaos of war upends their cloistered existence. Mathilde, a young French Red Cross doctor is convinced to break protocol and make a house call at the convent. What she finds there disturbs her – a pregnant nun in the midst of a complicated labor. More shocking still, she discovers several more novice nuns in various stages of pregnancy, and a headstrong Mother Superior (Agata Kulesza, Ida) refusing medical assistance for fear that if word gets out the convent’s future will be jeopardized. Secular and thoroughly modern, what Mathilde lacks in religious conviction she makes up for in compassion and decency, but she is ill prepared to confront the corrosive feelings of abandonment and shame overwhelming these servants of God.

This is perhaps the most restrained and intense film of writer/director Anne Fontaine, who is known for her more glamorous fare such as the glitzy biopic Coco Before Chanel (2009), and her frothy comedy Gemma Bovery (COLCOA 2015). With the help of co-writers Sabrina Karine, Pascal Bonitzer and Alice Vial, Fontaine creates a multi-layered story based on an original idea by Philippe Maynial, the nephew of historical figure Madeleine Pauliac, upon whom the Mathilde character is based. After starting out as a TV actor, Fontaine gained international recognition with her provocative third feature, Dry Cleaning (COLCOA 1998).

 

QUOTES:

“…intelligent, nuanced filmmaking at its best.”
– Judith Prescott, French Cinema Review

“…leaves us with a fresh understanding of our capacity to respond to suffering with good or evil.”
–  Justin Chang, Variety

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