The Innocent


For those in the profession, many would say that acting is a full-time job. So you can only admire those who not only choose to write but direct as well. The list of these triple-threaters is a small one, made even smaller when you factor in the quality of the work they’re producing.

The most well known ones tend to be white, male and American, with this elite club having members such as George Clooney, Ben Affleck and a veritable VIP in Woody Allen.

A member of the international section of the club would also have to include Louis Garrel, the 40-year-old French actor, writer and director behind this comedy crime caper.

boom reviews The Innocent
So as you can now see, i'm not a blonde, Swedish bodybuilder...

Love, as we all know too well, can be found anywhere. For Sylvie (Anouk Grinberg) she finds it in a male prison, where she teaches drama to some of the inmates, including Michel (Roschdy Zem), with whom she falls in love.

Luckily for her he is soon released, where she introduces him to her son Abel (Garrel). Unfortunately for her, Abel is more than a little sceptical about her mother’s romance, especially as she has previous, with this now being her third relationship with an inmate.

It’s no surprise then that he doesn’t trust Michel right away, even going as far as keeping tabs on him in an attempt to protect his mother.

But as he soon discovers, he has every reason to be suspicious, as there’s something very fishy about Michel’s behaviour in the outside world.

boom reviews The Innocent
How many times do you have to be told, it's left, left, right THEN dip!

We’ve mentioned before recently of the number of dreary French dramas that seem to be produced of late. Thankfully, this isn’t one of them.

Although it loosely involves criminal activities, it is typically French in that way that it’s really about love. And there’s a lot of it in the air. You have the love between Sylvie and Michel which is genuine, and then you have the love between a son and his mother. But even then, there’s more love than that. And strangely, it all comes from the love of acting, where two characters take centre stage for a rather touching and thrilling finale.

Kudos to Garrel who does well on all fronts, in what it is a fun, gentle and slightly unexpected crime comedy. There are some really nice performances from all the cast, and Garrel does well not to show his hand too early as to what his intentions are, working especially well opposite the wonderful Noémie Merlant who plays his friend Clémence.

Yes it’s a French film about a family of sorts, but it’s far from dreary, with a nice balance of humour and heartfelt sentimentality that makes it a highly attractive proposition that makes it a guilt-free pleasure.

we give this three out of five