Inspired by true events, "The Innocents" is a somber tale of spirituality in crisis set in post-World War II Poland. As the film opens, Mathilde (Lou de Laâge), a female doctor with the French Red Cross, is beckoned by a desperate nun from the nearby village. Brought back to the nun's convent, Mathilde finds one of the sisters in labor and immediately sets to helping her deliver the child.
The Reverend Mother (Agata Kulesza) and her second in charge, Maria (Agata Buzek) explain that shortly before the war ended, the abbey was invaded by Soviet soldiers. Now that the war is over, the soldiers have moved on, but several of the sisters are now in various stages of pregnancy.
Though the Reverend Mother views the pregnancies as a source of shame and fears the scandal that would ensue should their secret be found out, Maria implores Mathilde's help in delivering the remaining children. As the young doctor is brought into their world, guiding the frightened and confused nuns through the difficult circumstances, many of the women begin to wrestle with their faith. Beautiful performances from the entire cast help ensure that each nun is a distinct person, as all deal with their trauma in unique ways.
Despite the bleak subject, the film is an ultimately hopeful and compassionate examination of the boundaries of faith. As Maria explains to the doctor at one point, "faith is 24 hours of doubt and one minute of hope." Meanwhile, cinematographer Caroline Champetier's cold, desaturated photography often makes the film appear black and white at a time when the world was anything but.