Fairytales and bad dreams
Innocence is a mysterious piece of of largely visual filmmaking with an impressive, mostly child cast. It is clearly intended as an allegory or parable about the end of childhood and the awakenings of adolescence, and is not meant to be treated too literally (clearly some people are puzzled by this, see below!). Thankfully, the metaphorical level is not force-fed to the viewer as a pretentious and knowingly clever layer of meaning, but rather an implication in a film of great beauty and suspense. Children arrive in a coffin at a boarding school deep in a forest. They explore the haunted landscape of the school grounds which they are not permitted to leave, some pondering escape.
The film is shot in the unsettling – sometimes seemingly voyeuristic – Surrealist style of Bunuel, but with echoes of David Lynch’s Eraserhead. Mostly free of dialogue, it finds expression in the painterly qualities of its imagery and the spooky hum of its enchanted interior spaces. Tapping into Childhood fears and nightmares, its is the kind of film you would love to tune into in the middle of the night and be completely freaked-out by. The film does not seek to explain its mysteries, nor should it. The suspense and style is engaging on its own right, evolving into a startlingly impressionistic final sequence.