- Director:Agnieszka Holland
- Cast:Benno Fürmann, Agnieszka Grochowska, Maria Schrader, Robert Wieckiewicz
- Release Date:July 26, 2012
- Running time:144 minutes
- Film Worth:$17.00
- FILMINK rates movies out of $20 - the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth
An unconventional and unsettling slow-burner that delivers a powerfully emotional punch in its final act.
If In Darkness had been in Hollywood's hands, the central character would have been a text book hero, and the whole thing would have wrapped up into a tidy, feel-good finale. Instead, Agnieszka Holland's unconventional drama is gritty, grimy and uncomfortably realistic, with complex characters that aren't easy to like. The Polish director doesn't seek the poetry in this true story from a WW2 Jewish ghetto. There's no veneer, and little beauty. What Holland does is move us. Deeply.
Leopold Socha (Robert Wieckiewicz) is a sewer-worker and part-time thief in Nazi-occupied Poland. He hides and protects a group of Jewish refugees within a nook inside the endless tunnels of the city sewer system - for a price. Tough and free of compassion, he's a poor man with a wife and daughter, and he's out for what he can get. Socha's mercenary mission is complicated by a Ukrainian officer and old friend who wants him to search for refugees hiding in the sewers...and there might be money in that for Socha too. His relationship with the refugees is an uneasy one. Nobody trusts anybody. It's a misanthropic view of human nature, but slowly, as Socha finds his humanity, the movie starts to change.
Robert Wieckiewicz overplays Socha's toughness in the early scenes, while as Mundek, one of the refugees, Benno Fürmann delivers a somewhat self-conscious performance. But overall, both are strong, alongside a flawless supporting cast and superior production values. Agnieszka Holland (Europa Europa, The Secret Garden) methodically builds the narrative. It does take time to become genuinely involving, but ultimately, In Darkness hits with an emotional punch that leaves you reeling. Here, Holland - whose grandparents were killed in the Jewish ghettos of Poland - delivers a work of rare power.