Friday, 25 November 2016

REVIEW - THE INNOCENTS (ANNE FONTAINE)


The value of co-operation, adaptation and the fluid, flexible approach to implementing a sincere set of ethical codes in one's life, given soft-spoken form in Anne Fontaine's The Innocents. Fontaine is a mild-mannered director, which makes her perhaps too perfect a fit for the material - it needs a generous helping of verve to offset its tendency toward middlebrow melodrama, when in fact that's precisely what Fontaine facilitates. And yet such a sure, gentle guiding hand yields artistic results whose modesty is a fitting virtue - The Innocents is visually striking, excellently performed, and affectingly empathetic, all with a quietude that necessitates the viewer to engage with the film, rather than the opposite. That's a faithfully effective means of guaranteeing an honest connection with the audience, though it's a connection that this film seems intent upon severing. Having made its points, and made them well, The Innocents proceeds to repeat them over, eventually only diminishing their potency via a combination of repetition and an uncomfortable and unconvincing shoehorning into a prescribed narrative structure. Fontaine, who has, until now, arguably grafted harder than ever before to instil in her work a genuine strain of artistic worth, reverts back to convention, and boy does the film start to drag. It remains a worthwhile watch throughout, however, with its earnest representation of a uniquely female perspective on historical events normally analyzed from the male perspective, and with a predominantly female cast and crew, including riveting work by actors Lou de Laage and Agata Buzek, and sumptuous cinematography by Caroline Champetier.