Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Movie Review: In Darkness

I read a short plot review of this movie in the New York Magazine earlier this year and was determined to go and see it... Of course, that never happened, a common occurrence in my life, so I ended up buying it on DVD and watching it the other night. Directed by Agnieszka Holland (Europa, Europa) and Katarzyna Adamik, In Darkness is an adaptation of a true story. During World War 2, in the city of Lvov (Polish at the time, Ukrainian today), Polish plumber and petty thief Leopold Socha, works in the underground sewer tunnels and knows them off by heart. When he discovers a group of Jews who are trapped in the ghetto and who intend to hide in the tunnels from the Nazis and their Ukrainian helpers, he makes a deal with them - with their money they can buy his help and silence. During the liquidation of the ghetto Socha hides the Jews in an isolated area of the tunnels and brings them food and water. What starts off to be a mere business transaction between Socha and the Jews becomes a story of survival and tolerance amidst a world of violence, death and oppression.

The dialogue is mainly in Polish, with some German, Ukrainian, Yiddish and Russian thrown in here and there, and this is definitely not a movie of euphemisms. Holland doesn't hold back when portraying the absolute horrors of the war, and honesty is one of the main themes running through the storyline. Once the money runs out, Socha is incapable of letting "his" Jews die alone in the sewers and makes their survival his personal mission, even when faced with the dangers of being caught and executed. I found it a little difficult in the beginning to differentiate all of the characters in the tunnels, but it becomes easier after the groups are separated and the plot focuses on a smaller group of strongly played survivors. My favourites were definitely Socha, Mundek and Klara, who constantly have to battle their own fears and emotions in order to remain strong for the others.

Definitely one to watch if you are into movies about human nature at its best and worst; not if you can't deal with watching violent death scenes.

More information:
Agnieszka Holland on Wikipedia

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