‘In Darkness’ Movie Review – A Beautiful Tension
In Darkness is one of the foreign films nominated for this years’ Academy Awards. It comes from Poland and is directed by famed female director Agnieszka Holland.
I remember when I was in college I took a class on women directors in cinema and Agnieszka Holland was one of the filmmakers they talked about. We even screened one of her earlier films, Europa, Europa, which is very good if you haven’t seen it, and that’s why In Darkness sparked my interest when I saw Agnieszka Holland’s name attached to it.
In Darkness tells the story of Leopold Socha (Robert Więckiewicz), a sewer worker and petty thief living in Lvov, a German occupied city in Poland. As the ghetto gets “cleaned out” of all the Jews, Socha helps a group of Jews to hide in the sewers he knows like the back of his hands in exchange for money. However, as time passes, what started out as a quick way to make a lot of money for his family, soon becomes much more as Socha becomes closer to the Jews he is hiding.
Agnieszka Holland has created a wonderful film that will keep you in a constant state of anxiety as we not only follow Socha and the obstacle he faces himself as a Polish living in a German occupied city, but also the men, women and children living in the sewers in permanent fear of being discovered.
The film is adequately called “In Darkness” because that is exactly what we are for most of the film, in darkness. The seemingly suffocating sewer scenes are brilliantly constructed, and you honestly start wondering if you yourself could make it in that sewer.
The fact that the film is based on a true story makes it that much more captivating. It really is a story of survival that shows you the extraordinary strength men and women can have.
And let’s not forget the performances. Robert Więckiewicz is brilliant and I’m surprised his performance hasn’t gotten more praise in the US. Also noteworthy is Benno Fürmann who plays Mundek Margulies, one of the Jews living in the sewers. But that’s not all, Agnieszka Grochowska, Maria Schrader, Herbert Knaup and Julia Kijowska all get their own moment to shine. And did I mention the kids, Milla Bankowicz and Oliwer Stanczak, and how heartbreaking their performance was?
In Darkness is a beautiful movie; not a really cheerful one, but definitely a beautifulone. I would absolutely recommend you see it if you get the chance and even though its long running time of 145 minutes might be a bit scary for some (I know I was worried at first), you won’t even notice the time go by.
In Darkness opens today in Los Angeles and New York. And in case you haven’t seen it yet, you can watch the trailer here.