7:30 PM, 2nd November, 2017
PRESENTED IN PARTNERSHIP WITH THE EMBASSY OF POLAND
In December 1945, young medical assistant Mathilde Beaulieu (Laâge) is in Warsaw, Poland treating soldiers in the wake of World War II. After a nun approaches her and pleads for Mathilde to help her, she follows her through the snow to a convent. There she is asked to help a young nun – not unlike herself – give birth. When she returns the next day, she finds more nuns, most of whom are heavily pregnant after having been raped by Russian soldiers.
Mathilde wants desperately to treat these wronged women, but must find a way to provide medical assistance to these nuns whilst simultaneously keeping the situation a secret from her fellow doctors. Nobody can know about the pregnancies.
Based on true events, The Innocents is a French-Polish-Belgian co-production directed by Anne Fontaine (Coco Avant Chanel, Adoration). The film may progress slower than some would like, but this is reflective of the gradual understanding that Mathilde gains of the role that religion plays in the lives of the nuns, who all experience different levels of shame at having a physical condition in contrast to their faith. Importantly, the film also explores its subject matter with a certain degree of sensitivity, and makes me feel optimistic that that hope and light can exist in even the darkest of places.