Norwegian director and screenwriter Eskil Vogt returns to the director’s chair with supernatural thriller Innocents. The film premiered at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival and has since received overwhelmingly positive reviews from critics. Much of that comes from the extraordinary performances of its four main child stars. However, given the complexity of the childhood secrets at play and the metaphorical tone, Innocents‘ The ending may be confusing for some.
Innocents follows sisters Ida (Rakel Lenora Fløttum) and Anna (Alva Brynsmo Ramstad) after moving to a new suburb with their parents over the summer. From the outset, Ida’s relationship with Anna is strained due to her older sister’s non-speaking autism. Ida resents the attention Anna receives from her parents and becomes easily annoyed by her sister’s repetitive behaviors. However, it’s not long before Ida crosses paths with new neighborhood kids, Ben (Sam Ashraf) and Aisha (Mina Yasmin Bremseth Asheim), both of whom have hidden supernatural powers beneath their innocent exteriors. It is also revealed that Anna, much to Ida’s surprise, also possesses her own telekinetic and mind-reading abilities.
Aisha is an empath who can hear other people’s thoughts and feel their pain. She quickly develops a relationship with Anna, and over time helps her communicate through words – a shock to Ida and her parents. However, Ben represents the complete opposite of Aisha, acting as the innocents‘antagonist. Ben’s Telekinetic Powers Rival Stephen King’s Carrie, allowing him to move objects just by looking at them, break people’s bones, and even make their hearts ache. In addition to this, Ben realizes he has the ability to control the minds of others, which he uses to kill his bully. However, his most sinister act is using Aisha’s mother to kill Aisha after she dared to stand up to her.
With Aisha dead, Ida soon realizes that Ben wants to kill her and her sister as well. After a failed attempt to kill Ben by pushing him off an overpass onto a busy highway, Ida returns from the hospital with a broken leg. While left home alone to babysit Anna, who reverted to her mute ways after Aisha’s death, Ida – apparently displaying her own supernatural powers – breaks out of her cast and chases after Anna after she flees the apartment. to confront Ben. There she finds Anna and Ben engaged in a mental battle. Anna ultimately triumphs with Ida’s help, killing Ben and ending his violent rampage.
On its surface, Innocents seems like a simple story of good versus evil: Anna/Aisha good, Ben bad. However, it is so much more than that. The film challenges the idea that children are – as the title suggests – innocent and fundamentally good. Unlike many children’s films, InnocentsThe juvenile characters are just as complex as the adults. Ben may be the antagonist, but he’s not necessarily the villain. Although the film doesn’t go into too much detail, Ben’s bruising and disdain for his mother suggests that he may be a victim of physical abuse and neglect. As such, Innocents opens the discussion for a good old debate between culture and nature. Was Ben born inherently evil or was he a victim of society?
Still, the film’s main focus is Anna and Ida’s complicated relationship. Due to Ida’s initial annoyance and his autistic sister’s sadness, Ben believes he has found a partner in violence. However, Ida remains somewhere in the middle of Innocentstheme of good versus evil. She has a childlike curiosity for the darker things in life but realizes fairly quickly – thanks to Aisha’s kindness – that it’s not for her and leaves Ben behind.
Through Aisha’s kindness, Ida also learns to see her sister in a new light. Instead of seeing her as a “senseless and emotionless” nuisance, Ida realizes that Anna is her own person, whose feelings and needs are just as valid and important as her own. This is symbolized by Ida taking Anna’s hand while fighting Ben. Whether or not Ida actually helps in mental confrontation is debatable; however, she makes Anna stronger with her support. Afterwards, their relationship is changed for the better. Ida carries a new appreciation and understanding for her sister, whether Anna can communicate through words or not.
Innocents also highlights how children often have their own unique issues that adults don’t necessarily understand, like Stephen King’s misfit protagonists This. This is illustrated when Ida asks her mother for advice but not for help. Instead, Ida tries to handle Ben’s problem on her own. As such, the film serves to remind audiences of the magic and complexity of childhood. Sure, kids might not have supernatural abilities in the real world, but they’re still forced to navigate the good, the bad, and the morally gray areas of society.
To have The End of Innocents for Yourself, the film is available for rental and in select theaters now.
The Innocents crafts a poignant and moving story with X-Men charm
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