2004 [FRENCH]

Drama / Mystery

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 71%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 75%
IMDb Rating 6.8 10 5995

woman director

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Plot summary

Uploaded by: FREEMAN
October 18, 2022 at 09:19 PM

Top cast

Marion Cotillard as Mademoiselle Eva
Hélène de Fougerolles as Mademoiselle Edith
1.08 GB
French 2.0
23.976 fps
2 hr 0 min
P/S ...

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by madcardinal 9 / 10

Beautiful, magical, poignant!

An excellent and magical film which is definitely not for everyone, "L'ecole" can be experienced on at least two levels.

First, the entire film is a dreamlike allegory about girls venturing through childhood and into puberty. It is tinged with a sense of anxiety about the challenges and uncertainties of adulthood, toward which all children journey. Also, there is a sense of trepidation about being molded to the dictates of a society unconcerned with your personal gifts, desires and aspirations. In tone and feeling, it is like dream-vision poetry from the medieval age. If you're watching "L'ecole," and thinking, "Where is there a school like this?" or "It's bad that the new girls arrive in coffins." Or "There should be parents in this movie," then you are missing the point. This movie is an allegory as well as a conceit and it requires the symbolism of dreams to speak eloquently and to honestly explore its issues. With no doctrinaire adult character to "set things right," this movie is free to honestly portray childhood itself while it intentionally avoids preaching about what adults think childhood ought to be.

Second, "L'ecole" is a reverent rhapsody on life as it is experienced directly by the senses: sight, sound, touch, smell and taste. It explores the life of the body. In connection, the cinematography is beautiful, vibrant and sumptuous – with saturated colors and natural lighting. If you liked "Picnic at Hanging Rock" and "The New World," you will like "L'ecole." If you strongly prefer Hollywood-style movies with their clear narrative story lines; familiar content and tone; stock characters; and readily identifiable messages such as "drugs can destroy your life, if you abuse them," you will be frustrated or perhaps angered by this film.

I also suggest if you have a strong aversion to the sight of the human body, you avoid this movie. Because "L'ecole" is about the senses and the life of the body, it must acknowledge the fact that girls have bodies – that they are not just clothes, spirit and thought. Nudity means "being without any clothing," and there is only one very brief nude scene in this movie, in which a girl gets out of the bathtub and looks at herself in the mirror, evaluating her arrival at puberty. If you sneeze, you will miss the nudity, so I'm not sure why some reviewers on the internet whine about "constant nudity." Furthermore, this nude scene is honest, thoroughly wholesome and entirely age-appropriate. There's no doubt in my mind that every girl and boy who's ever taken baths in a room with a mirror has done this same self-appraisal at some point while growing up. There are also some swimming scenes involving semi-nude girls, but these are pleasant and innocent. Since they are partially clothed, the girls are not even skinny-dipping in the true sense of the word, as many children throughout the world actually do. Any viewer who was taught, "The body is the temple of the soul," or who remembers skinny-dipping as a kid or is familiar with the human body as a worthwhile subject in over 3000 years of Greco-Judeo-Christian Art should be fine with the mere semi-nudity in this film.

Regarding some reviewers accusing film-maker Lucile Hadzihalilovic of making child pornography, such accusations are irresponsible, false and slanderous – most likely the result of sloppy thinking, misinformation or hysteria. Nothing – and I mean **nothing** – sexually explicit occurs in this movie and all the behavior of the characters is age-appropriate. If you're looking for a special, poignant film, check this one out.

Reviewed by fertilecelluloid 8 / 10

Haunting and imbued with a dreamy, meditative veneer

The final title, "for Gaspar" (Noe, director of IRREVERSIBLE), hints at the pedigree of the makers of this quite fascinating study of young girls on the cusp of adolescence.

Benoit Debie, the cinematographer of IRREVERSIBLE, shot the film.

Six year old Iris (Zoe Auclair) arrives at her new country school in a coffin. She becomes infatuated with twelve-year-old Bianca (Berangare Haubruge) who disappears each evening and returns in the morning. The girls spend most of their days studying ballet and preparing for an important exam.

The school is like a keep. The girls are encouraged to find happiness in obedience. Parents never visit. The world beyond its tall hedges exists like something within a dream.

Director Lucile Hadzihalilovic imbues every aspect of the film with a dreamy, meditative veneer. Shots of the pre-teen nymphs dancing, cartwheeling and splashing about in shallow water recall the grainy erotic imagery of David Hamilton's early feature films -- in particular, LAURA and BILITIS. The ballet sequences and striking compositions of solitary female figures in towering external landscapes owe a small debt to Dario Argento's SUSPIRIA and, to a lesser extent, his PHENOMENA. But this is not a deliberate softcore meditation on childhood sexuality. It is a metaphorical examination of how innocence is ruptured by its own curiosity.

The camera angles stress the importance and prominence of legs to a fetishistic degree. This focus is an organic extension of the girls' ballet training; a darker purpose for legs is indicated later in a chilling line of dialogue. Debie's cinematography emphasizes light and shade and is never pretty for its own sake.

The forest filled with lamps has a deliciously surreal, fairytale quality. The sequences where the girls dance for a faceless audience reminded me of one of MULHOLLAND DRIVE's most haunting sequences. The film's sound design also echoes the internal voids of the Lynchian world.

The film is not big on explanations and is a touch too slow at times, but it presents a thoroughly realized universe that is a stark metaphor for life's discoveries and disappointments. The performances possess perfect pitch and the tone remains both haunting and consistent.

What exactly is the film about? The girls may be in a purgatory of sorts, a resting place between life and death. Perhaps not. Perhaps they are in a holding pattern between childhood (innocence) and adulthood (a state requiring some loss of innocence), and when they manage to escape (succumbing to their pre-adolescent curiosity), they have forfeited their place in childhood forever. But only perhaps.

Reviewed by ThomasKus 9 / 10

Thought-provoking and beautiful film

There can't be many films that occupy your mind for many days afterwards, make you read the book they are based on, and then watch them again.

"Innocence" is one of those films and it is both beautiful and intriguing at the same time. It is based on a book by Frank Wedekind called "Mine-Haha or the corporeal education of girls", the only published fragment of his unfinished novel "Hildalla". It was first published in 1901 and although beautifully written it has much darker undertones than the film with references to a body cult of youth and natural beauty which would later become exploited by Nazi culture.

The film is very much a metaphor for a childhood world which is in many ways separate but also protected from that of adults. It plays in an isolated Girls School their children enter at the time when they start to make their own independent experiences of the world around them and ends with the onset of puberty and attainment of menarche, both symbolising the emotional and physical end of childhood. The cinematography is beautiful and reminded me in many ways of Tarkovsky with its symbolism and haunting images. However, the story can seem a little simplistic and linear times and often appears to demand more depth from the young child actors than they could possibly deliver.

Nevertheless this is a very interesting and thought-provoking film and well worth watching. The French dialogue often has a musical quality and as long as you're prepared to watch this in a calm and unhurried state of mind this is very rewarding and unusual cinematic experience.

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