I couldn't stop thinking about pedophiles while I watched Lucile Hadzihalilovic's surreal film "Innocence." How pedophiles would love this movie. How pedophiles would flock to theaters, watch it again and again. How the film would seem like a gift from above.
The beautiful little girls who populate this odd, disturbing fairy tale dress only in white. White pleated skirts, white buttoned blouses, adorable white socks, fitted white coats. They wear brightly colored ribbons in their hairs. They attend boarding school in a lush paradise from which there is no escape. Sometimes, they frolic nude in glistening pools of water. Or they dance, in scanty white underwear.
"Innocence" begins when six year old Iris (the stunningly gorgeous Zoe Auclair) emerges from a coffin, naked but very much alive. The older girls indoctrinate her into a strange disciplined life that includes feverish play in the forest, biology class, and dance lessons. Sometimes, the girls are deliriously happy, but mainly, they express extreme longing for the outside world from which they are excluded. Creepy is not strong enough a word.
Hadzihalilovic adapted the film from the 1888 short story "Mine-Haha, Or The Corporal Education of Young Girls" by German playwright Frank Wedekind. The source material is certainly obscure enough, and the film is like none other I have ever watched and fidgeted through. Men with a penchant for young girls: please stay away.