If there's a war movie we haven't seen enough of yet, it's one from the female perspective, one that further obscures who the good guys and bad guys really are. In Anne Fontaine's moody feature The Innocents, even the nuns are gray. During a bitterly cold winter, tucked away in a provincial Polish village just after World War II, seven nuns are secretly pregnant. In a crisis, one seeks help from a young woman doctor, Mathilde (Lou de Laâge), who at first refuses, following protocol. But the sight of the nun praying in the snow shakes some ice from Mathilde's heart, and she comes to the rescue of another nun birthing a breech baby.
Talk of science and faith dominate the conversations of Mathilde and French-speaking nun Maria (Agata Buzek). But both are struggling -- Maria with her belief in God after the Russian soldiers who seemed meant to save them imprisoned them as prostitutes instead, Mathilde with the belief that she could ever be a respected woman of science in a male-dominated world.
A calming natural light ribbons through every cold landscape, catching the almost translucent white skin of the nuns and the billowing navy and black of their habits -- very Vermeer. Despite its seemingly dark focus on a group of women in fear of getting repeatedly raped by their allies, The Innocents builds to a mighty finish, something of a crescendo to cut through the quiet grief. The most graphic depictions in this film are of female friendships. Almost makes a nunnery sound like a pretty sweet deal.