Simon Jaquemet’s The Innocent is a Swiss/German character study of a religiously devout woman named Ruth that intrigues and mystifies in equal measure. I have not seen a film like this before; one that pulls in seemingly disparate elements to make a statement about, perhaps, the dangers of blind faith.
Ruth, played by Judith Hofmann, is a seemingly happily married mother of two. They’re members of a local church and socialize frequently with the other parishioners. Ruth is also involved in the “cutting edge” of spinal cord injury research, working with head transplants of monkeys. Already a fascinating contrast for a character study, between the world of science and the world of faith, the film does not stop there: rather, Ruth, stressed with the ethical dilemmas she faces at work, is further brought to the breaking point when her ex, a man charged for murdering his aunt for her inheritance, is released from prison. Once again, this plot point would be (and has been) the driving force of many films before it – yet, the film does not stop there.
Certain events will unfold that will test your ability to continue watching the film. If something occurs that seems out of place, and you are not the sort to try and hammer disparate plot points to make a coherent theory (I’ve already stated mine here), you may be better off watching another film. However, if you would like a film that perhaps challenges conceptions about faith and science, this film is certainly an engaging 2 hours.
To be clear, I am not stating that this film is hard to understand; rather, it is harder to accept at face-value the events that transpire. Perhaps, more context and setting the scene for all the stressors involved in Ruth’s life could have gone a long way to helping establish the film’s surrealistic aspects.
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