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Review: Innocence

As my university runs a film appreciation society where you pay £2 to see a film a week for a whole year, I didn't hesitate to sign up, but sadly so far it's been all Danish crime and films about gangsters and slavery, so when I heard there was a French film on with no mention of guns or politics, my friends and I decided to go along and give it a try. It turned out to be a very strange film, far from the jolliness of your Amelie or L'Auberge Espagnole, but interesting and worth seeing if you have spare time.

The setting is a boarding school of very young French girls, but it is obvious from the start of the film, when a girl arrives in a coffin, that this is no ordinary school. There are adults there (including teachers played by Marion Cotillard from Big Fish and the new movie A Good Year, with its enticingly Alizée-soundtracked trailer), but the girls seem to look after themselves and each other. The story switches between following different girls, and this can sometimes be confusing as they all dress the same and look very similar.

At times the film is sweet and endearing, and it's not as scary as the coffin arrival might suggest. In fact, any frightening moments (for example the drowning of one of the main characters) is treated so calmly you hardly feel any different to the rest of the film - never entirely at ease because you're always expecting something terrible around the corner, but never quivering on the egde of your seat either. The film continues at a very constant pace, with no major events or plot conventions, and at the end I only knew it was the end because a) I was starving so I knew I'd been sat there for ages, and b) there was bubbling water, just like the beginning of the film.

I would not warn you against seeing this film, but if you are not someone with a lot of patience or an obsession with European cinema, then I wouldn't call it a 'must see' or anything of the sort. I enjoyed the visual side of it much more than I did the pretty non-existent plot and it's an interesting way to pass a couple of hours, but it does seem like twice as long and if I had been watching in my living room I highly doubt I would have reached the end.