Feels like 40 movies
then jump to 1953; Demidov is an officer in the MGB, the Soviet intelligence agency (and KGB forerunner), tasked with tracking down traitors.
This is a world where, as one character notes, it can be “just our turn” to be denounced and arrested as a spy. And indeed, things turn difficult for Demidov when his MGB boss, Kuzman (Vincent Cassel) orders him to investigate his own wife, Raisa (a sensitive Noomi Rapace).
At the same time, Demidov has hit on something disturbing: The young son of a colleague has been killed by the train tracks. Demidov knows from seeing the body — naked, and sliced up — that the boy was murdered, but he’s ordered to tell the family it was a train accident. Why? Because in Stalin’s worker’s paradise, murder doesn’t exist; it only exists in decadent capitalist societies.
Demidov doesn’t have time to investigate further in Moscow because, having refused to denounce his own wife, he’s roused from bed and exiled along with Raisa to a far-off outpost, where he’s given a filthy room and an unglamorous job under a mercurial boss (Gary Oldman, welcome but underused).
But boys keep getting killed by train tracks — this is where the number 44 comes from — and the movie keeps toggling between being a political history film and a detective story (the serial killer is actually based on the Rostov Ripper, who in real life operated decades later). Demidov is determined to track down the killer, and even returns to Moscow to investigate on the sly. But a former colleague, Vasili (Joel Kinnaman, in a monochromatic villain role, with little to explain his motivation) is bent not only on stopping him, but eliminating him.
In its final half hour, the movie becomes an action film, with a couple of vicious fight scenes — a bloody free-for-all in a train car, and an equally messy struggle in a huge mud puddle.
We won’t expose the ending here, though fans of the book obviously know it, and also know that “Child 44” is the first in a trilogy. Should the filmmakers pursue the other installments, they’ll hopefully exercise a bit more discipline and leave more on the editing room floor next time around.
French with Chinese subtitles Comedy 2015 98 minutes
France Jeremie wakes up and finds out the person beside him is not his future husband Antoine but a pretty woman. What’s worse, he begins to fall for her. Directed by Noémie Saglio and
Maxime Govare With Pio Marmai, Franck Gastambide and Adrianna Gradziel