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Review: In Darkness

Agnieszka Holland's Oscar-nominated story
By PATRICK Z. McGAVIN  |  March 1, 2012
3.5 3.5 Stars



Polish director Agnieszka Holland's Oscar-nominated story about a wastrel named Leopold Socha (Robert Wieckiewicz), who hid the Jews of Lvov from the Nazis by concealing them in the sewers, has an anguished and feral intensity. Holland sharply uses the nearly 2-1/2 hour running time to animate the fractious group dynamic, exploring the class and social hierarchies (and even sexual complications) imposed by the different Jewish factions without eliding Socha's own questionable profit motive. The movie's six different languages contribute a searing authenticity. Working with the superb cinematographer Jolanta Dylewska, Holland draws on the restricted light and vertiginous space to achieve immersive, tactile imagery that is appalling and unforgettable. A great actor unknown here, Wieckiewicz finds a solidity and complex moral shading that balances the character's predatory instincts with his developing responsibility.

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