Writer-director Katherine Griffin’s up-from-the-roots saga “The Innocents” is touched with a sincerity undermined by a plodding, studious pace and approach. Telling the kind of tale that has long been a staple of indie humanist filmmaking, Griffin takes such careful steps with her first feature that she misses the humor in the gal-pal odyssey. Shown in vid copy at Dances With Films festival, pic has possibilities on the lower-end indie fest circuit, but prospects beyond that look dim.
Story matches brainy school valedictorian Jane (Kama Lee) with Indiana farm girl Maggie (Griffin, unwisely directing herself), under the thumb of brutal dad Joe (Joe Kellogg). Each friend brings best out in the other, leading to a contrived search by Jane for her mother’s identity, nondramatically revealed family secrets and a predictable sea change in Maggie. Lee pulsates warmth amid the wooden thesping. Early-’60s setting is clear only to attentive viewers, while low production values allow ’90s touches onscreen, resulting in confusion: These budding women seem awfully innocent, even for the ’60s.