Innocence

115 minutes 2004

Sure to spark controversy, Lucile Hadzihalilovic's 2004 feature debut, based on Frank Wedekind's disturbing turn-of-the-century novel, depicts an isolated pastoral enclave inhabited by prepubescent girls. In an atmosphere of vague unease and lingering enigmas, the girls, divided by age and color-coded by hair ribbons, take care of one another, the only adults in attendance being two women who teach ballet and biology. Groomed for some mysterious, unspoken purpose, the older girls are summoned at night for special "lessons." The community is introduced through the eyes of a six-year-old who arrives in a coffin via watery underground passages. Hadzihalilovic, the wife of cinematic agent provocateur Gaspar NoƩ and his sometime collaborator, has created a work of limpid beauty and eerie menace that some undoubtedly will dismiss as kiddie porn. In French with subtitles.

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