Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Video review: "In Darkness"
"In Darkness" is one of the most depressing and sobering movies you'll ever see, and I mean that as a compliment.
This Polish film was nominated for a best foreign language film Oscar, and is absolutely deserving of that honor. It's the true story of a group of Jews who hid out in the sewers beneath their town to escape the Nazi regime, existing among the filth and squalor for more than a year with the help of a non-Jewish worker.
Well... "help" is a relative term. Socha is an inspector of the sewer lines, but is really a dabbler in various schemes to enrich his family's meager station. If that means stealing, or taking bribes, or extorting money, then so be it.
Robert Wieckiewicz plays Socha with conviction and a rough sort of purity. His blocky face and burly torso give the impression of a man not inclined to giving up easily.
When a group of Jews break through into the sewers from their ghetto prison, Socha is more than happy to take their money to keep them safe.
Over time, though, his selfish motives begin to soften, and he starts taking risks to keep the survivors safe -- even when the Jews' money runs out, and the endeavor begins to endanger his own family.
Some people may tire of troubling tales from World War II, but you could never exhaust all its stories of human grace and debasement. "In Darkness" has both, told with power and filthy majesty.
Video features are the same for DVD and Blu-ray editions, and are limited to just two featurettes -- but they're both eminently consequential.
The first is "An Evening with Agnieszka Holland," a 29-minute sit-down with the director, one of the greatest female filmmakers of all time, as she reflects on her long and amazing ("Europa, Europa") career.
The other is "In Light: A Conversation with Agnieszka Holland and Krystyna Chiger," in which the director talks with one of the actual Jews portrayed in the movie, who was just a child at the time. Needless to say, it's a very emotional encounter.
Movie: 3.5 stars out of four
Extras: 3 stars