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Innocence (Unrated)

Release Date: October 21st, 2005 (NYC-Cinema Village) by Leisure Time Features.
The Cast: Zoť Auclair, Laisson Lalieux, Astrid Homme, Lea Bridarolli, Ana Palomo-Diaz.
Directed by Lucile Hadzihalilovic.
In French with subtitles.

BASIC PREMISE: Young girls prepare for adulthood in a remote school for girls.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Despite lacking a coherent plot and having no suspense or character development, this film constantly amazes with its stunning visuals. The end credits are awkwardly placed in the beginning and, for what seems to be an eternity, the camera dives through turbulent water. The young girls spend most of their time learning ballet and scienceóthere are no other classes. Fundamentally, this film is in the genre of mystery because of all the peculiarities, such as that new students are transported to the school in a coffin. Also, thereís no adult supervision most of the time, such as when the girls are bathing in a lake. The cinematography perfectly captures the beauty of nature in every sceneómany scenes feel like a documentary. Ultimately, the slow pace and the long running time makes this film slightly drag. It would have been more engaging had writer-director Lucile Hadzihalilovic included more of plot with interesting, memorable characters. The only resemblance of a plot is a dance competition when one of the girls becomes jealous of the winner, but that scene is too brief and comes too late in film.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: Thereís plenty of thought-provoking symbolism about the transition into adulthood. For example, in one scene, the girls wear butterfly wings for their ballet show, which symbolizes their maturity into a new stage in life like the caterpillarís metamorphosis. In subtle ways, the girls are warned about how different life will be like in the future. The editing cuts to the scenes of nature imply that the metamorphosis is not only natural and inevitable. Just like in real life, itís difficult to predict how any of these girls will react to the changes that they are about to endure.

INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Minimal plot, character development, and no suspense.


THE BOTTOM LINE: Stunning cinematography and an intriguing use of symbolism. However, its pace often drags and it lacks an engaging plot to sustain your attention.

RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (2nd Run)

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