I don't know if I can take this movie really seriously, it is rather slow, nothing much happens, little school girls wonder around in a park in a dark school, doing nothing much, the intention is to portrait the innocence of these little girls in obeying what others say, in that the movie succeeds, other than that, no other story to tell. Interesting but forgetable.
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65 of 78 people found the following review helpful
"Innocence": a lyrical, beautiful, and sometimes even clinical exploration of coming of age in girlsJan. 16 2010
Richard H. K. Bloom
- Published on Amazon.com
I happened upon this film on YouTube last week and rented it from Netflix. This is a film about an exclusive private boarding ballet school in an English speaking country that could nevertheless be, and most likely is, found in many nations of the world, especially the Russian Federation, where people are passionate about ballet as they are nowhere else. The cost of educating and training this small group of girls in the basic academic arts and dance is offset by the revenues of recitals the girls put on periodically at an old opera house nearby. Since the fate of the school is tied completely to the success of the recitals, the shows must please their demanding audiences: the girls must not only dance perfectly but look like angels, maintaining perfect figures dressed in white. They are permitted to roam the extensive grounds of their school so long as they do not leave. That ballet companies can be unforgiving with the rare people suited to their art and that the perfectionism demanded by many dance teachers has driven many students to depression, anorexia, and suicide are cliches. The girls at this school know they cannot leave, so they do not dwell on the injustices meted out by their teachers, but all but the most beautiful and successful entertain fantasies about leaving that often surface as nightmares. Those who act out these fantasies meet differing outcomes. Although sequestering girls away from males may be necessary to to enable some of them to dance without embarrassment or fear, it is the rare girl that is willing to forego knowledge for the privilege. When the girls run away, it is with the audience's understanding and approval. The prettiest and most talented, on the other hand, find protection at the school and become the school's leaders, knowing they are too young to handle the many attentions of boys they would be sure to meet "outside". When they finally undergo puberty, these "survivors" are taken to the nearby city and neatly deposited at a city fountain, where their unselfconscious willingness to splash in white dresses up to their underwear inevitably draws the attention of boys nearby, who will now teach them about love at precisely the moment when love is most magical and sublime. The system works, but only for the elite: those patient enough to wait out the long ordeal. Let's be as clear about the film as the film is trying to be clear about girls: This movie is not pornography by any stretch. There is no nudity or sex whatsoever, and shots of girls dressing for ballet or playing on the lawn lack all manner of prurience. This is a film about what it feels like to be a girl on the cusp of adolescence, before hormones make them "boy crazy". What it feels like, more than anything else, is warm and scared and companionable. There are, in fact, no males on this campus, nor need there be, since the film makes clear that girls of this age do not understand sexual differentiation and, what's more, do not care to. "Innocence" often drags, much as childhood often drags, but it is a visually beautiful film united by a handful of appropriate motifs, water for libido, snow for chastity and purity, rare color for the few reminders of time and aging the girls live with. A riveting film it is not; a sincere and sometimes clinical exploration of feminine coming of age it most certainly is, with the appeal of music and ballet thrown in. BTW there is really only one fantastic aspect in the film, but it is easily explained and completely in agreement with the film's theme: the girls leave and arrive in coffins. In light of the above it should be obvious what this conceit means: these girls must be "dead" to the sexuality within them for as long as they remain there; their sexuality is directed not to members of the opposite gender but to their ballet's audience. This sexual numbness may be especially common to children raised only among members of their own sex. In its celebration of the grace and beauty of youth, "Innocence" calls for a new era of sublimation of youthful sexual energies, specifically dance, while acknowledging that such sublimation may be impossible and even undesirable for all but the most beautiful and talented of young people among us.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
pure and beautifulOct. 6 2011
- Published on Amazon.com
This is a beautiful film. The storyline is open to your own interpretation. I watched this over a week ago and I cannot stop thinking of different possible answers, yet the storyline isn't that complicated. I loved the actors, for such a young age, they all did an excellent job. This film is set in a park with lots of beautiful green scenery.
There is a suspenseful and dark tone to this film like something awful is going to happen, however, the end result is something that I didn't expect. I loved the eerie feel of the outdoor wall lights attached to the trees along the path that the older girls walked on at night. My favorite scene is when the schoolgirls are dancing, swinging, and playing in the forest with classical music in the background, it really reminded me of my childhood, where you simply enjoyed playing with no drama or tension. If you like slow and thoughtful movies, give it a try.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
FlawlessOct. 3 2012
- Published on Amazon.com
Maybe it's something about the French. This film, and "Ponette", rank with me as the loveliest, truest cinematic works dealing with childhood.
(Well, I should add that men might not feel that way, since both films deal with little girls -- I am interested to know what male lovers of cinema would vote for.)
Aesthetically, this is a first-rate film, from its highly stylized, deliberately old-fashioned opening to its purposefully abrupt end at the fountain. I watched this in complete absorption before watching the interviews with the charming Lucile Hadzihalilovic, and I am in complete agreement with her choices regarding filming and soundtrack. As she intended, mood is set by the interesting visuals, but there is no Hollywood-style musical score guiding the viewer's emotional response.
Ms. Hadzihalilovic intended the story to be open to interpretation, but although one might quibble over details, I don't see how anyone could see this as anything other than a poetic, psychological interpretation of the voyage from young girlhood to sexual maturity. In this it is accurate, moving, and beautiful. As Hadzihalilovic intended, it is like a fairytale and a dream, something to which every viewer can bring her own experience.
I am always impressed with directors who can work with young children. This director gets a naturalistic performance from her little girls, which is more than any recent American movie I can remember could boast of. As a girl who grew up in the '70s and '80s, I remember girls at single-sex schools dressed in uniform, jumping rope and playing with hula hoops, and the director gets more than that -- she gets the feel of being a little girl in that kind of environment. As she herself notes, in real life, the girls would have been crueler to each other. True, but no matter -- she gets the gentler side of it right.
Some have described this movie as being somehow perverted. I disagree. It is our jaded modern view that would incline someone to see this. I think this beautiful film lives up to its name and shows innocence, a good and lovely thing, with darkness around the edges. Like life.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Magical & Beautiful! (Review includes spoilers)Dec 8 2013
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An excellent and magical film which is definitely not for everyone, "Innocence" can be experienced on at least two levels.
First, the entire film is a dreamlike allegory about girls venturing through childhood and into puberty. It is tinged with a sense of anxiety about the challenges and uncertainties of adulthood, toward which all children journey. Also, there is a sense of trepidation about being molded to the dictates of a society unconcerned with your personal gifts, desires and aspirations. In tone and feeling, it is like dream-vision poetry from the medieval age. If you're watching "Innocence" and thinking, "Where is there a school like this?" or "It's bad that the new girls arrive in coffins." Or "There should be parents in this movie," then you are missing the point. This movie is an allegory as well as a conceit and it requires the symbolism of dreams to speak eloquently and to honestly explore its issues. With no doctrinaire adult character to "set things right," this movie is free to honestly portray childhood itself while it intentionally avoids preaching about what adults think childhood ought to be.
Second, "Innocence" is a reverent rhapsody on life as it is experienced directly by the senses: sight, sound, touch, smell and taste. It explores the life of the body. In connection, the cinematography is beautiful, vibrant and sumptuous – with saturated colors and natural lighting. If you liked "Picnic at Hanging Rock" and "The New World," you will like "Innocence." If you strongly prefer Hollywood-style movies with their clear narrative story lines; familiar content and tone; stock characters; and readily identifiable messages such as "drugs can destroy your life, if you abuse them," you will be frustrated or perhaps angered by this film.
I also suggest if you have a strong aversion to the sight of the human body, you avoid this movie. Because "Innocence" is about the senses and the life of the body, it must acknowledge the fact that girls have bodies – that they are not just clothes, spirit and thought. Nudity means "being without any clothing," and there is only one very brief nude scene in this movie, in which a girl gets out of the bathtub and looks at herself in the mirror, evaluating her arrival at puberty. If you sneeze, you will miss the nudity, so I'm not sure why some reviewers on the internet whine about "constant nudity." Furthermore, this nude scene is honest, thoroughly wholesome and entirely age-appropriate. There's no doubt in my mind that every girl and boy who's ever taken baths in a room with a mirror has done this same self-appraisal at some point while growing up. There are also some swimming scenes involving semi-nude girls, but these are pleasant and innocent. Since they are partially clothed, the girls are not even skinny-dipping in the true sense of the word, as many children throughout the world actually do. Any viewer who was taught, "The body is the temple of the soul," or who remembers skinny-dipping as a kid or is familiar with the human body as a worthwhile subject in over 3000 years of Greco-Judeo-Christian Art should be fine with the mere semi-nudity in this film.
Regarding some reviewers accusing film-maker Lucile Hadzihalilovic of making child pornography, such accusations are irresponsible, false and slanderous – most likely the result of sloppy thinking, misinformation or hysteria. Nothing – and I mean **nothing** – sexually explicit occurs in this movie and all the behavior of the characters is age-appropriate. If you're looking for a special, poignant film, check this one out.
37 of 52 people found the following review helpful
Great film, bad encoding.Jan. 5 2008
F. M. Alegre
- Published on Amazon.com
Seriously, I don't know what Home Vision did to this film, as it is the dvd image renders it almost unwatchable. There's just too much combing (when a progressive image is made out of an interlaced one and the image gets "videodromey" whenever there's more movement onscreen).
Being a movie about children, every time they would go out to play and dance around the school, there was some crazy "The Ring"-like effect because of the bad encoding, I thought the children where getting out of the TV to kill me, completely took me out of the story.