Review: THE INNOCENTS

“Faith is 24 hours of doubt and one minute of hope.”

This honest description comes from a woman wracked with trauma and hiding in secrecy — from a nun, in fact. Director Anna Fontaine’s THE INNOCENTS explores a too-real, overwhelmingly solemn experience, based on real events, which hope to remind us of the truth behind this statement.

Mathilde Beaulieu (Lou de Laâge) is a young doctor working for the French Red Cross in Poland, 1945. When a nun comes to the door of a survivor camp at the end of the war, Mathilde discovers a world constructed by nightmares: in the nearby convent, several nuns are in advanced stages of pregnancy, a result of a night in which German soldiers attacked the convent 9 months previous. Mathilde agrees to help the nuns in birthing the babies, and to keep their secret.

img_1492What an emotionally brutal, complex story to bring to the big screen, and yet it is handled with such sensitivity. The plot unfolds with as much prudence as can be hoped for, not forceful in its procedure but simply allowing the audience to uncover the horror of the situation themselves. Fontaine gives a devastating look at the inner turmoil of these nuns as they struggle with their faith and outward perception, not to mention PTSD from the rapes, throughout the film.

De Laâge shines in her performance, serving as the surrogate for the audience while simultaneously tackling her own arc. Agata Buzek and Agata Kulesza (who we’ve recently seen in last year’s IDA) give beautiful performances as well, handling their characters’ circumstances with great delicacy.

This is a film you won’t want to miss. THE INNOCENTS is now playing at Midtown Cinema!

 

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Review: THE HOLLARS

He gave us BRIEF INTERVIEWS WITH HIDEOUS MEN back in 2009, and as many directorial debuts can be, the result was uneven and lacking in authority. Now, John Krasinski has helmed another film, and while THE HOLLARS is endearing, it doesn’t show a lot of growth in direction.

John Hollar (Krasinski) has an eccentric family. His father, Don (Richard Jenkins) cries at the drop of a hat; his brother, Ron (Sharlto Copley) is in his 30s and has the responsibility of a child; and his mother, Sally (Margo Martindale)… Well, Sally just found out she has a brain tumor.

imageJohn travels back to his childhood home, leaving behind his pregnant girlfriend, Rebecca (Anna Kendrick), to be with his family. But when he arrives, he is bombarded by the mess that his family has created around them. Ron has divorced his wife (Ashley Dyke) and is slowly being driven crazy by her new Reverend boyfriend (Josh Groban), and Don can’t keep the family business from sliding into bankruptcy. Sally’s nurse (Charlie Day) is now married to John’s ex-girlfriend, making things a little awkward for John, who is already feeling anxiety about his and Rebecca’s relationship.

The characters in the story are brilliant, and transparent to a fault. Unfortunately, there seems to be a lot of comedy for the sake of comedy in THE HOLLARS. The plot seems to be staged around gimmicks, and the more poignant moments of the film are sometimes a little bit clumsily juxtaposed with the latter.

But there are nuggets dispersed throughout the film that make up for the uneven pacing and cartoonish humor. The story may have its flaws, but the characters are still relatable. For a fun watch to bide the time until Oscar contenders start cropping up, check THE HOLLARS out at Midtown Cinema!