The Innocents - Romeo and Juliet with a twist
On August 24 Netflix uploaded all episodes of their new drama The Innocents. Some reviews have not been kind but at time of writing it has 83% approval on Rotten Tomatoes- so what do critics know? To be honest I'm not sure why the series has been received poorly by some. It is a coming or age story with a central romance between two teenagers overlaid with a sci-fi twist that kept me guessing right to the end.
Teenagers Harry (Percelle Ascot) and June (Sorcha Groundsell) are in love with each other and decide to run away from their repressive families so they can be together. Their journey is derailed by an extraordinary discovery. As the star-crossed lovers struggle to understand their situation, they learn from a mysterious professor (Guy Pearce) that June is not alone and there are more like her. The professor promises to cure June and reunite her with her mother, who deserted her three years earlier, but Harry and June's love is tested as their journey becomes increasingly dangerous. The couple reach a breaking point as they face a choice -- keep their innocent dream alive or embrace that their lives have changed and risk everything.
The central performances of Groundsell and Ascot are excellent. They present believable characters and react well to the unfolding mystery that surrounds them. Groundsell in particular looks like a young star to watch out for. She delivers a mature performance that captivates.
For star-attraction and the need to have a big name on board, the criminally under-used Guy Pearce plays Prof Halverson. Having Pearce in the trailer and do most of the promotional interviews is a good strategy. He (almost) sleeps-walks his way through the role as it does not test him. We know he can do the complex persona (anyone seen Memento?). I wanted more from the role for him. Other characters are fleshed out but his true motivations shift and in the end appear muddled.
Filmed in the UK and Norway by directors Farren Blackburn and Jamie Donoughue, the scenery is breathtaking. Tension is managed well throughout however the last episode felt a little rushed.
Overall, an enjoyable watch and nice to see an innocent love story. There are rumours of a second season and I would welcome one as there were many unanswered questions at the end.