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Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Review: The Innocents (De uskyldige)

Director: Eskil Vogt

Screenplay: Eskil Vogt

Year: 2022

Ida, her autistic sister Anna, and their family move to a new place. While exploring outside, they meet Ben and Aisha and discover that they have telekinetic powers, which become stronger when they are together. The discovery of these powers takes a dark turn when one of them decides to use them for more than just fun.

The research world in psychology has debated for years the theories of whether a person is born predetermined to have evil behavior or whether people are born with a blank slate, and the circumstances around them make them evil. Although there is no firm answer to this (or at least that I know of), it is still a fascinating area of ​​psychology and even philosophy. And what if we gave a group of children telekinetic powers that allow them to express their most sincere impulses without apparent direct consequences?

“The Innocents” (“De uskyldige”) is, to some extent, a philosophical exploration of this theory known as tabula rasa. During its 117-minute runtime, we mainly follow Ida and her sister Anna, who are later joined by Ben and Aisha, a group of children with whom Norwegian director and screenwriter Eskil Vogt (“The Worst Person In The World”) breaks with unreal canons of cinema and get them to act as expected of a child. It's not just the director but the cast does a phenomenal job.

During the first half, you don't know where the film is going, and the interest seems to rest on getting to know the characters rather than establishing the plot. About halfway through its duration, the story takes shape and begins to follow a clear direction, in which we then appreciate the time spent getting to know the characters, as their personalities and backgrounds play a crucial role in how the rest of the movie unwraps. All of this sits on top of incredible cinematography and excellent sound design that enhances the experience.

During the second half, the story becomes darker and darker, where horror elements are more prominent until reaching the resolution. The ending is precisely one of the weak parts of the film, which feels disappointing relative to what is expected of the tension it creates in this second part. However, the message it tries to convey is as clear as the other messages in the rest of the film.

"The Innocents" stands out for its script and how it presents the situations and characters that carry the plot. Although slow, it does a great job of breaking down the characters and their personalities and then using this information to flesh out the problem and its resolution, the latter falling somewhat short of the quality presented thus far. Still, "The Innocents" is an excellent exploration of how the perspective between a child and an adult leads to different actions and conclusions about a problem and an interesting philosophical exercise on the root of human evil.

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