Agnus Dei’s filmmakers ultimately embrace the sin of over-simplification. And audiences, grabbing for their tissues, will likely forgive them of it.
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Where "Ida" takes a drearier, more realistic approach to the story, The Innocents, despite its dark focus on a group of women living in fear of getting repeatedly raped by their allies, actually has a mightier finish, something of a crescendo to cut through the quiet grief.
Directed by French director Anne Fontaine (Two Mothers/Adore, Coco Before Channel), this is another gorgeously appointed but also slightly overly formal film, with a muted emotional payoff that, while appropriate for the story’s convent setting, doesn’t exactly make for must-see cinema.
Anne Fontaine's film is an allegory for women's condition more generally, in times of war or peace.
The actors bring emotional authenticity to the aftermath of trauma, but despite that and the handsome cinematography, there is also a persistent phoniness.
Despite an ending that is far too obvious and tidy, Agnus Dei is a moving drama about the struggle to keep one’s faith in the most difficult of situations.
Hope and horror are commingled to quietly moving effect in Agnus Dei, a restrained but cumulatively powerful French-Polish drama about the various crises of faith that emerge when a house of God is ravaged by war.
Director Anne Fontaine’s film is based on actual events and grapples with thorny questions that plague even the most zealous during times of crisis. It’s a pity, then, that this picture finds Fontaine compelled to find a resolution in a situation that seldom yields easy answers.
Like many historical dramas, unfortunately, this one depicts gripping events without bothering to craft a coherent viewpoint that lends them meaning.