A lid is popped off a coffin in the drawing room of a country house. A gorgeous six-year old, Iris, is revealed. Confused yet curious, she is taken in hand by Bianca, the leader of a group of girls who live in one of five houses that make up an unusual boarding school. The only adults are old servants and two authoritarian teachers. Obedience is paramount. Those caught trying to escape are either swallowed up by the horrors of the outside world or condemned to serve the other girls for the rest of their lives. With time, Iris grows accustomed to the school. But something irks her. Every evening at nine, when the lamps are lit, a subterranean rumbling returns and Bianca leaves her sleeping quarters to attend a secret meeting. One evening, Iris follows her to the big house where the teachers live. Inside, everything seems deserted. Even Bianca appears to have vanished into thin air. In her latest film, Lucile Hadzihalilovic, editor-director and life partner of Gaspar Noé, has transferred the menace of impending adulthood to a netherworld of seemingly utopian science-fiction. Told through the eyes of a little girl, Innocence’s visual and tonal ideas are related to the most imaginative and frightening of children’s stories. It reconceives coming of age in unexpected and daringly original ways.

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