Childhood is usually depicted on screen as being some kind of wonderful utopian period or time of great unhappiness and danger. The reality is usually somewhere in the middle, a lot of good but also a lot of bad. A time when young adventurous minds crave knowledge and new experiences, but these normally come in increments. Not in some huge coming-of-age event. In The Innocents, extraordinary children crave normality.
Anna (Alva Brynsmo Ramstad) developed a form of autism which means that she can no longer talk. This is frustrating for her younger sister Ida (Rakel Lenora Fløttum) because, not only does it mean that they can’t really play together, she’s also expected to look after her. Also monopolising much of her parents’ time and attention. Lonely, the nine-year-old wanders the new complex they’ve moved in to and encounters children with unusual abilities (Sam Ashraf and Mina Yasmin Bremseth Asheim).
We learn the difference between right and wrong growing up, but The Innocents plays with still developing notions of both innocence and evil. These are children learning through experience who don’t necessarily think about consequences. This is the charm of Eskil Vogt’s new film. He teases genre overtones through a childhood drama. Using the unique and singular elements of The Innocents to open-up a Pandora’s Box of possibilities. Brutal, callous and creepy.
The Innocents is out in UK cinemas from 20 May.