JDIFF 2012: In Darkness review

In Darkness

Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2012

Special Presentation: In Darkness

Wednesday, 22nd February, 8:10pm, Cineworld

What is so striking about Oscar-nominated, In Darkness is the originality in tone. Many familiar titles in the past have dealt with the tough subject matter by focusing on the heroism and bravery of those who fought against the Nazi Regime, but this Polish/Canadian/German co-production gives a gritty, honest look to what life would have been really like for survivors. Through the amazing, complex flawed characters, this film is not afraid to show the humour, hatred and sex that existed in such a harsh terrain.

Based on a true story, In Darkness is set in Nazi-occupied Poland, in (or rather just under) the city of Lviv. Poldek, a part time thief who’s struggling to look after his family, happens upon a group of Jewish people as they escape from the Ghetto. As their friends and families are murdered or taken to the camps, they hide out in the sewers, paying Poldek and his young co-worker, for the risky but profitable job of keeping them safe and fed.

Two and a half hours of this film is spent mostly underground and as one might imagine is pretty claustrophobic. However the time is broken up well, being punctuated with romance, drama, betrayal and bonding. Overall In Darkness packs a mighty big emotional wallop, and is certainly not reccomended as a first date movie – but it is certainly deserving of the nomination and is 100% a ‘must see’ film.

Afterwards Agnieszka Holland gave an engaging Q&A where she spoke to the packed (and largely Polish) audience about how she avoided doing this film for years. In Darkness took three years to complete and was originally conceived in English, however Agnieszka refused, wanting it filmed in Polish, Yiddish, Ukrainian and German. It was definitely a relief after the intensity of the film when this confident woman shared her funny anecdotes.

Gemma Creagh


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