Fantastic Fest Review: THE INNOCENT Questions Faith And Science

God didn't turn water into wine for you to add more water to it, Ruth.

After bringing the world Chrieg (War), director Simon Jaquemet sought to tackle something a little more theological with The Innocent. The film focuses on Ruth, a committed mother and a faithful servant of God. Her normal life is flipped on its side when her ex Andreas is released from prison, triggering a course of events that will ultimately lead to her church believing that she has found herself in bed with Satan himself.

The Innocent has several interesting concepts woven into its plot, mostly revolving around the battle between faith and science. Ruth works at a medical lab that runs experiments on primates, attempting to complete the first successful head transplant. If successful, it will mean the limits of mortality may someday no longer exist, putting the ideals of organized faith on the backburner. The lab comes close, but can’t seem to complete the transplant without paralyzing the subject. This results in Ruth struggling with the idea of playing God, and the mercy that should accompany that.

The plotlines run in tandem throughout the film, both desperately trying to say something. Unfortunately, what that something is seems to be lost in the shuffle. The Innocent leans heavily on allegory, leaving you to expect some sort of “aha” moment before the credits roll. But that revelation never comes. Instead, the film tosses in a couple other subplots that seem to do nothing more than stretch the run-time to almost two hours.

In addition to the plot concluding in little more than question marks, the cinematography relies on one too many static shots, trading movement for drawn out pauses on the faces of the cast. There are some lovely moments, to be sure, but not enough to balance out the numerous all-white backdrops and expressionless eyes looking off into the distance.

Like religion, you’re left to your own devices to decide what The Innocent is trying to say. Perhaps that was the point, and maybe there could have been allowances for that had the film trimmed thirty minutes or so off of its runtime. But overall the movie feels like a miss.