Dec 30, 2013

Innocence (2004)




Female coming-of-age flicks, especially of the actually female-directed sort, are not exactly common, but it seems the emasculated French pump out the best and most patently perverse films from this niche subgenre, with Catherine Breillat’s Fat Girl (2001) aka À ma soeur! certainly being a notable and rather nasty example. Undoubtedly, the most innately idiosyncratic and downright bizarre girly coming-of-age flick I have ever seen is Innocence (2004) directed by Argentinean-born auteur Gaspar Noé’s Bosnian-French wife Lucile Hadžihalilović (La bouche de Jean-Pierre, Good Boys Use Condoms). Rather loosely based on a novella by degenerate Teutonic playwright Frank Wedekind entitled Mine-Haha, or On the Bodily Education of Young Girls (1903) aka Mine-Haha oder Über die körperliche Erziehung der jungen Mädchen—a work that was rather unfortunately lauded by Judeo-Marxists Leon Trotsky and Theodor W. Adorno, as well as mischling diva Marianne Faithfull—Innocence is certainly no less controversial than the sordid and gritty cinematic works of Hadžihalilović’s hubby Noé (to whom she dedicated the film), though for entirely different reasons. Indeed, with its various scenes of fully naked preteen girls frolicking around lakes and whatnot, Innocence is certainly the sort of work that would attract the larger male pedophile population were the film not so pathologically plodding and steeped in atmosphere-driven ambiguity. Like her blatant filmic influence David Lynch, Hadžihalilović has stated in various interviews that it is up to the viewer to find their own meaning while watching Innocence, for which I certainly respect the filmmaker as the film features nil of the far-left novelty intellectualism that oftentimes plagues frog cinema. Like Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975) directed by Peter Weir meets A Day with the Boys (1969) directed by Clu Gulager meets The Spirit of the Beehive (1973) directed by Víctor Erice meets Lynch’s Eraserhead (1977) in keen color and written from the perspective of a little girl, Innocence is a visceral yet esoteric work where ritual and routine drive the film’s seemingly nonsensical storyline. A somewhat ironically titled work, Innocence is a film about the loss of innocence every member of the fairer sex must face when evolving from a prepubescent girl into a physical and mental woman who longs for a man. Set in a bizarre French boarding school for girls where new students arrive naked in tiny coffins and are inevitably molded quasi-militaristically into women if they are successful with their secret studies, Innocence is an ominous, oneiric, and foreboding flick that even manages to transcend Terry Gilliam’s Tideland (2005) in terms of its bewildering portrayal of the complete and utter confusion that is female childhood. Undoubtedly an innately flawed film that I found to have various glaring annoyances that were clearly executed by someone with a soft, if not artistically strong, female touch, Innocence is certainly a work that will more appeal to women and probably also effeminate gay men, but will certainly provoke a response in all viewers, namely due to its various scenes of nude little girls, obsessive hermetic symbolism, and nonlinear storyline. 




 One thing that my girlfriend, who ultimately hated the film, and I found particularly annoying about Innocence is that the prepubescent protagonist, Iris (Zoé Auclair), is an Asian of unmentioned origin who sticks out like a sore yellow thumb in an exclusively white and seemingly ‘classical’ French boarding school, as if auteur Hadžihalilović wanted to make sure her film was ‘multicultural’ enough for the average French cultural Marxist cinephile. Like all the new students at the institution, Iris inexplicably arrives naked in a coffin, as if she has been reborn a baby vampire. Instead of being greeted by the school’s teachers/adults, Iris is welcomed and shown the ropes of the all girls school by the little girls that attend it. The pupils at the school are differentiated by age with colored ribbons that they wear in their hair, with the youngest student wearing red (Iris’ color) and the oldest wearing violet. Almost immediately upon arriving at the school, Iris becomes infatuated with an older girl named Bianca (Bérangère Haubruge), who the newcomer looks up to as a mentor and seems to have almost lesbian feelings for. Iris has no clue how she arrived at the school and complains about missing her brother, but her pleas are only met with the reassurance that she is now at ‘home.’ Despite lacking control of the students in many regards, the teachers are rather authoritarian and seem like frigid dykes who want to break little girls just as they were once broken long ago. When one of the little girls, Laura (Olga Peytavi-Müller), attempts to escape from the school on a leaking rowboat, she ultimately drowns and her corpse is burned up in the coffin she arrived in a ritualistic manner in front of the entire population of the institution as if a warning to all other girls at the school to not attempt to escape. Indeed, fear is the foremost tool used to keep the girls in check. When a rather homely girl that looks like Anne Frank, Alice (Lea Bridarolli), lashes out due to the fact she was not picked to ‘graduate’ from the school, she later runs away and disappears and the teachers tell the rest of the girls to forget she ever existed. A lady named Mademoiselle Eva (Marion Cotillard), who teachers the girls ballet and the finer points of being a fair lady, does the honor of setting the coffins of dead girls on fire, while a cunty cripple with a cane named Mademoiselle Edith (Hélène de Fougerolles) acts as a sort of adversarial character. Notably, Iris is told that if she breaks the rules at the school (i.e. attempts to escape), she will be punished with being forced to stay there forever like the female teachers, who never developed into real woman as sexless spinsters who have dedicated their lives to teaching little girls (after all, those that cannot do teach!) In the end, Iris’ best bud Bianca graduates from the school and almost immediately finds a ‘man’ upon entering the real world in a symbolic scene clearly indicating she has finally reached womanhood. 




 In an interview, auteur Lucile Hadžihalilović stated regarding Innocence and her expectations regarding how certain audiences will respond to the film: “I think the audience’s reaction will vary between men and women. Naturally, I think it’s easier for women to identify with the young girls. They’ll understand it more quickly and directly. Their own lives will be evoked. It’s a bit more complicated for men since there are no male characters in the film. So I think their own view of the young girls will be evoked.” Indeed, I would be lying if I did not admit that I could not completely lose myself in the film as Innocence was clearly made by a woman with a ‘nostalgic’ sense of childhood, which Hadžihalilović confirmed in an interview when she confessed: “Someone told me that they think my film portrays what it is to be a normal girl, in a normal school who conjures up that world in their imagination to recount their experience. In that sense, yes, my film is completely autobiographical.” Somewhat peculiarly, Innocence is also rather heavy on “nature-worship” and reminded me of a Lynchian take on völkisch National Socialist propaganda flicks like Enchanted Forest (1936) aka Ewiger Wald. In fact, auteur Hadžihalilović confessed regarding her interest in adapting Mine-Haha, or On the Bodily Education of Young Girls, “One of the elements that I really liked in Wedekind’s story was its pantheism. Maybe it’s personal and related to my childhood, but I have the impression that children live in nature.”  Undoubtedly, if one learns anything while watching Innocence, it is one cannot stop the power of nature and that nature knows no morals.



 Indeed, if there was anything I could relate to in Innocence, it is the film’s mystical depiction of nature and its organic majesty because as a child I loved nothing more than getting lost in the woods and feeling like I was one with the animals, trees, and water. Of course, as symbolically depicted at the conclusion of Innocence when Bianca graduates and heads to the city, most people seem to lose their affinity and respect for nature when they become adults. Notably, Innocence is not the only film based on Wedekind’s Mine-Haha, or On the Bodily Education of Young Girls, as director John Irvin made an inferior yet much darker lesbo-themed adaptation of the novella entitled The Fine Art of Love: Mine Ha-Ha (2005) starring Jacqueline Bisset. A film that will probably only ironically appeal to dubious individuals into arthouse child porn like Maladolescenza (1977) as well as female cinephiles looking to get in touch with their inner child, Innocence ultimately proves Lucile Hadžihalilović is a true female talent who has yet to make her masterpiece and who does not need to rely on cliché feminist/left-wing politics to attract praise from critics like most female filmmakers do. Make no mistake about it, Innocence is a slow and oftentimes plodding arthouse work, but Hadžihalilović is clearly an uncompromising and intuitive artist in the Herzogian sense who takes cinema very seriously as an artistic medium and who is not afraid to alienate the majority of filmgoers, which is certainly something I can respect. Indeed, while I know next to nothing about Hadžihalilović, it is quite clear to me that Gaspar Noé has found his soul mate and she clearly lost her innocence long ago, but like her film demonstrates, innocence is something one does not truly understand until it is lost forever. 



-Ty E

12 comments:

jervaise brooke hamster said...

The girl in the water looks like Gennie James.

peregrine fforbes-hamilton said...

Ty E, what right have you got to judge other peoples masturbatory fantasys ?, you`re a bloody hypocrite.

peregrine fforbes-hamilton said...

Ty E, you didn`t show any images of the girls naked, its very unlike this site to 'chicken-out' (as it were) but you certainly did that here ! ! !.

peregrine fforbes-hamilton said...

The bird who made this film is a bloody hypocrite as well, how can she possibly say that the picture on the DVD cover isn`t specifically meant to drive geezers wild with lust and desire ! ?.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

"Dubious individual", yet another phrase derived directly from "THE TIME OF SEXUAL REPRESSION" ! ! !.

jimmie t. murakami said...

Ty E, you say you respect film-makers who alienate filmgoers, so you have no interest in entertain-girl-t ! ?, only highbrow elitist bull-shit ! ?.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

In "Poltergeist 3" Zelda Rubinstein said "Innocence is the only gift we`re given in life, all else must be fought for". By the way, wouldn`t it have been nice if Heather could`ve been in this film ! ! ! ! !.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

Ty E, this would lead rather nicely into that reveiw of the complete uncut version of "Ice Palace" (1987) that i requested ! ! !.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

"Innocence" was made about 10 years ago which means all the girls in it would now be just the right age (18/19/20)) to appear on "Ass Teen Mouth" and "First Anal Quest"...WOW, dont tell me you weren`t thinking that as well while you were watching the movie Ty E ! ! !.

willy jerk-off said...

After a really incredible ball scratching session i like to wipe all the blood off my cobblers and look at the shape of the wounds that i`ve just scratched, last week i scratched one in the shape of a map of England, i felt so ashamed and so relieved when it healed over, i wish Heather had been there to see that ! ! !.

teddy crescendo said...

Ty E, i know you`re not a fairy but you do tend to show more male nudity on this site than female nudity, maybe even you have been brain-washed by the loathsome and disgusting faggots who run Hollywood and the media like millions of other poor bastards (NOT ME THOUGH, NOT ME, THANK GOODNESS), even if you think you haven`t.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

Ty E, are you subliminally or subconsciously fixated or obsessed with that gorgeous little Jewess Anne Frank ?, because you said there was a little bird in Werner Herzogs "Even Dwarfs Started Small" who reminded you of Anne as well ! ! !.