Directed by Lucile Hadzihalilovic, starring Zoé Auclair, Laisson Lalieux, Astrid Homme, Lea Bridarolli, Ana Palomo-Diaz, Bérangère Haubruge, Olga Peytavi-Müller, Marion Cotillard and Hélène de Fougerolles.
Iris (Auclair) is the newest pupil at a girl's school, housed in an imposing old mansion, surrounded by a forest and high stone wall. Like all the other girls, Iris has arrived at her new home in the most unusual way: in a coffin. But that is just the start of the oddness of Iris' new environment. The girls are forbidden from seeing their families; biology and ballet are the only subjects they are taught; eldest girl Bianca (Haubruge) must leave every night for her own lessons and the mantra is that "obedience is the only path to happiness".
As unique a film as you'll see this year, Lucile Hadzihalilovic's debut signals that she is a director to follow in the future. Beautifully shot, but deeply unsettling from the outset, it's a film that will offer different meanings to different people. You might think it's a metaphor for the journey from childhood to the wider world or is it something far darker? And if you've convinced yourself that you've brought too much baggage and preconceptions, then why are the girls arriving in coffins?
Hadzihalilovic, of course, is too smart to offer any answers and while the ending seems to be a happy one, it won't put you at ease. Eerie and engrossing all at once, 'Innocence' will join the likes of 'Picnic at Hanging Rock' and 'Donnie Darko' as cult films that will endure for generations to come.