Review: The Innocent
by Júlia Olmo
- Louis Garrel creates a fun, exciting film about love as the driving force and essence of life
Not all of Louis Garrel's films as a director (Les deux amis [+see also:
film profile], A Faithful Man [+see also:
interview: Louis Garrel
film profile], The Crusade [+see also:
film profile]) are complete, and that’s ok. They manage to do something that is not always so easy: they are enjoyable, fun and interesting films. They resemble a kind of popular cinema to discuss human issues, which in one way or another touch us all, to entertain us and at the same time to raise questions, to make us go beyond what we see. Through the stories they tell, they talk about relationships, love, heartbreak, friendship, loss, ideals, pain and the passing of time. And they never lose sight of that story, the story is the heart, they don't waste time on generalities that get nowhere. The story is what keeps us watching, keeps our attention, and from there, the ideas flow subtly.
The French filmmaker also achieves this in his latest film, The Innocent [+see also:
film profile], presented out of competition at the last Cannes Film Festival, and from 12 October in French cinemas with Ad Vitam, after being screened at festivals such as San Sebastian and Zurich. As in his previous films, the start of the film is great, hilarious and strong. When Abel (played by Garrel himself) learns that his mother (Anouk Grinberg) is about to marry a man in prison (Roschdy Zem) while in the car with his mother, he panics. Paranoid and lost, with the help of his friend Clémence (Noémie Merlant), Abel does everything he can to try to protect his mother. However, an encounter with his new stepfather will change the course of events.
Through this story about characters who, for different reasons, are trying to rebuild their lives, Garrel creates a story that, above all, is a love story on several levels, about the search for love and the price of that love. How far are we willing to go for love? Is the question that seems to run throughout the film. With lightness and at the same time certain depth, this theme is presented as the driving force of life, a reason for happiness and also for suffering, for which it is worth risking everything and living. In doing so, he also manages to address the complexity of issues such as the impossibility of forgetting what we once loved, the meaning of truth and its reverse (the title of the film is no coincidence), deception and its possible convenience, the random condition of life, its tendency towards the unexpected, fiction as a mirror of what we really are, art as a form of representation of ourselves. The virtue of the film also lies in how the story is told, in how it manages to awaken and hold our interest. Maintaining the tone and rhythm of the beginning, Garrel boldly intersects comedy, drama, romance and thriller to take us to the ending. The characters are also cleverly constructed, they are believable, their conflicts are relatable, and the Merlant-Garrel couple is superb, at times touching.
The Innocent is a film that, despite everything, manages to achieve what it sets out to do. It ends up being an entertaining yet moving film, told with simplicity and grace. There is no pretentiousness in it, it is an honest film. Far from a certain supposedly "intellectual" cinema that nobody really understands, without forgetting the story, with sensitivity and humour, it manages to explore questions whose truth we recognise ourselves in.
(Translated from Spanish by Vicky York)
Did you enjoy reading this article? Please subscribe to our newsletter to receive more stories like this directly in your inbox.