Synopsis by Mark Deming
A strange institution prepares young girls for their future in a manner they don't truly understand in this surreal drama laced with fantasy. Iris (Zoe Auclair) is a six-year-old girl who arrives in a coffin (though alive and well) at a remote boarding school, where she and a handful of other girls are looked after by teachers Mademoiselle Eva (Marion Cotillard) and Mademoiselle Edith (Hélène de Fougerolles). Handpicked for the school and taken away from their families at a young age, each girl's age and place in the school's hierarchy is identified by the color of ribbon they wear in their hair (the oldest students, about 12, get purple ribbons), and they are forbidden to leave the campus grounds. Violating the rules is dealt with harshly, and their lessons focus on little besides ballet and biology. Each evening, the older girls are taken away to a different program they are not allowed to discuss, and the students get the impression that they are somehow being trained for future responsibilities, though what and why both remain a mystery. The first feature film from writer and director Lucile Hadzihalilovic, Innocence was adapted from a short story by Franz Wedekind.