Film Critic: Solid tale of hero­ism

Kyiv Post - - Lifestyle - Kyiv Post ed­i­tor Jakub Parusinski can be reached at [email protected]

tion, re­flect­ing sub­tle changes to sta­tus or power re­la­tions.

Thus, one of the Jews, Klara, moves from crys­tal clear War­saw Pol­ish to bro­ken Ger­man or Yid­dish in times of des­per­a­tion or pas­sion, while her fel­low hideaway prides him­self in speak­ing strict Hochdeutsc­h (high Ger­man). De­pend­ing on place and pur­pose, the main char­ac­ter Leopold shifts be­tween gwara lwowska, the now de­funct di­alect of Pol­ish Leopoli­tans, and Pol­ishUkraini­an surzhyk.

A tense scene in which Leopold de­mands the Jews not speak Yid­dish, which he can­not un­der­stand, con­veys both his fears of retri­bu­tion and their con­cerns about be­trayal.

Sadly, those un­fa­mil­iar with the lan­guages used will miss out on much of the film’s depth, which does not ex­ist in other ar­eas. The sce­nario re­mains pre­dictable, and raises no new is­sues or ques­tions. More­over, it does noth­ing to chal­lenge the archetypes typ­i­cal of Poland’s World War II cinema.

De­spite his ini­tial ma­te­ri­al­ist streak, Leopold turns self­less hero as any good Pole should, while a cheat­ing hus­band is the only thing adding nu­ance to the stan­dard por­trayal of Jews. The worst lot be­falls Ukraini­ans, who are pic­tured as ea­ger if at times trou­bled Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tors, with vir­tu­ally no con­text to speak of.

View­ers in the crowded cinema room, where most seats went to in­vited mem­bers of Lviv’s Pol­ish community while lo­cals sat on the floor or stood in the back – an irony lost on the or­ga­niz­ers – could thus be for­given for feel­ing dis­ap­pointed. Pass­ing on the chance to ex­plore Lviv’s mul­ti­cul­tural past, the film some­how feels smaller than its lengthy 144 min­utes would oth­er­wise sug­gest.

A solid piece of cin­e­matog­ra­phy, “In Dark­ness” nonethe­less re­mains in the shad­ows of Hol­land’s pre­vi­ous work.

A screen shot from “In Dark­ness,” a Pol­ish film which re­counts the story of Leopold Socha, a sewer worker in Nazioc­cu­pied Lviv who uses his in­tri­cate knowl­edge of the city's canals to save Jews. (sony­clas­sics.com)

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ukraine

© PressReader. All rights reserved.