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The Innocents (2016)—FranceThe Innocents (2016)—France

This dramatic period movie, which is based upon the experiences of one of the writer's own aunt, takes place in the winter of 1945 in a Polish convent, just after the end of the war. But the ravages of war are by no means over. A young French nurse named Mathilde is working with the French Red Cross to help the survivors of the German camps when she is asked by one of the Polish nuns to come to their convent to treat one of the sisters. This violates the rules of both the Red Cross and the convent. Her secular worldview and moral universe are turned upside down when she discovers that seven of the sisters have become pregnant after being raped by Russian soldiers at the end of the war. This creates all sorts of complicated moral dilemmas for everyone — vows of chastity, loss of faith in the face of atrocity, the meaning of a disrupted vocation, what to do with the newborn babies, the many difficult choices faced by the Abbess, the meaning of divine Providence, and even a romantic relationship between Mathilde and the Jewish doctor (whose parents died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp) with whom she works. This movie reminded me of how innocent civilians often bear the worst horrors of war. "The Innocents" debuted at the Sundance film festival.

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