In Darkness: Film #77 of Film 365

Sunday 11th September 2011

Director: Agnieszka Holland
Year: 2011
Stars: Robert Wieckiewicz, Benno Furmann, Agnieszka, Grochowska

Sadly, this was the last of our five Toronto International Film Festival movies. I could have stayed for another week. But there was more of Canada to see, and we could only afford so many film tickets!

The first exciting thing about In Darkness, for me, was that it was being screened in the Elgin Theatre - the last double decker theatre in the world. It's a truly stunning theatre, and whilst perhaps not really as good as a "proper" cinema for watching movies, it was entirely worth choosing to see a movie there for the environment and atmosphere.

Of course, it also helped that In Darkness is a really rather good movie. In it, Leopold Socha spends the Second World War helping Jews to survive by hiding them in the sewers in Lvov, Poland. At first I was a little concerned that the film might be overlong and drawn out. It did take a while for everybody to be fully characterised, but after 40 minutes or so I was thoroughly engaged in the story and not noticing the time at all. Give it a chance and your patience will be rewarded.

The best thing about In Darkness is that it doesn't treat any of the characters like martyrs. The Jews are normal people, and behave just like you or I would if forced into that situation. You and your family are most important, and you'll fight others for survival. It may not be how you'd like to behave in that circumstance, but I'm willing to admit it's probably how I would act. Even the hero doesn't start out as a hero - he does it all for his own financial gain. Obviously that changes, but nobody here is portrayed as Godlike - just normal people doing their best to deal with an awful situation.

In Darkness is a thoughtful, thought-provoking and (dare I say it) worthy movie, which I can only recommend.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

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I live in Bristol with my husband Dan (who I married in July 2007), my son Joe (born 2012) and daughter Jess (born 2015). I work at UWE (the University of the West of England) in Bristol as a Research and Open Access Librarian. I'm orginally from Exeter, so moving back to Bristol is a bit like coming home - especially as I studied for my undergraduate degree here (also at UWE). I love travelling and movies, although I get to do a lot less of both since the birth of our children. Although we have still managed to fit in holidays to the Isles of Scilly, Chamonix and a summer in California since Joe was born.