Innocence Screen 9 articles

Innocence

2004

Innocence Poster
  • Whether it could have been as potent as Dogville or as silly as the The Village, the idea of a narrative payoff for Innocence is not important to the filmmaker, who deems it necessary to keep the audience as in the dark about the girl’s “education” as the young girls themselves are. Sadly, what is evoked with the film’s visual grace and intoxicating use of childhood mystery are eventually deadened by archetypal board-school stories which do not explore Wedekind’s interesting concept.

  • Meant to approximate some sort of entrancing netherworld of pre-teen flowering, Hadzihalilovic's beautiful but thematically obvious directorial debut mainly exudes a fetishistic fixation on nubile femmes, culminating in a third-act scene in which creepy faceless men watch, and toss roses to, the eldest girls as they suggestively perform a choreographed dance number on stage. As such, Innocence will likely be the consensus pick for best picture of the year among pedophiles worldwide.

  • Unlike Private, which looks like ass and has a clunky Message to impart, Innocence is 100% atmosphere; the opening sequence of "establishing shots" alone is so exquisitely judged, in terms of composition and juxtaposition and even duration, that it more than compensates for the jejune content. And as predictable as the conclusion was, damned if it didn't get to me. I'd see her next movie in a heartbeat.

  • The greatest victory of Lucile Hadzihalilovic's first feature is that it perfectly captures the suspense of this adolescent anticipation, giving the viewer the perspective of the innocent grasping for clues that everyone else seems to know already. The effect is fascinating and frustrating, and in hindsight the film's title seems to connote more naivete than purity, since much of the dramatic tension in the film comes from this tone of powerlessness, impatience, and dread.

  • Ms. Hadzihalilovic is a gifted stylist, though when it comes to female desire, she might profit from less time with Mr. Noé's work and more time with Amy Heckerling's "Fast Times at Ridgemont High," a film in which girls are allowed to have bodies, brains, boys and self-determination all at the same time, and without that annoying buzzing.

  • One way or another, most viewers will recognise Innocence as a film of exceptional originality that establishes its director-writer as an audacious talent. Among the current class of young French film-makers, Hadzihalilovic is definitely head girl.

  • What Hadzihalilovic taps into is so primal and essential, both in terms of mythology and sociology, that her vision can stand on its own. At once a feminist parable and a bedtime story, "Innocence" unfolds like a crouching animal, waiting to pounce.

  • While "Innocence" initially portends a weak parable on totalitarian control via fear, as in last year's "The Village," the film's gothic roots in Frank Wedekind's German expressionist source material (no, I haven't read it either) quickly take firm hold and never let go. This is one of the most genuinely eerie films in recent years.

  • Innocence feels something like a hammer blow to the glabella. Derived from a (currently) untranslated Frank Wedekind story and seething with conceptual potency, the movie feels sui generis, a verdant, ambiguous dream of childhood, consciousness, and oppression.

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