But, as directed by the veteran
Not only did Leopold Socha (top Polish actor Robert Wieckiewicz) look unsympathetically on Jews, he was hardly a model citizen. An inspector in Lvov's sewers by day, by night he was a burglar, hiding his loot in the underground system and returning to his wife Wanda (Kinga Preis) and their daughter like nothing had happened.
If Socha stands out as the protagonist from the start, the Jews he ends up saving are, perhaps intentionally, harder to tell apart at first, a situation that parallels the undifferentiated way Socha himself tends to view them.
Sensing that a liquidation of the Lvov ghetto is imminent, the Jews investigate the sewers as a potential hiding place, which is where they literally run into Socha, who tells them, truthfully as it turns out, that no one knows this underground world as well as he does. Socha agrees to help the Jews find a hiding place, but for a steep price. He'll take their money now, he tells his assistant, and then think about turning them in to the Germans for a reward when the cash runs out. For their part, the demanding Jews can barely hide their contempt for this man: "Never trust a Polack" is about the mildest thing they say.
Gradually, however, Socha — and viewers — are able to tell the Jews apart. Among them are Mundek (
Helping make "In Darkness" so realistic and so involving is Holland's decision, apparently taken against the advice of the screenwriter and the producers, to tell this story in all its multiple original languages. Having characters often not understanding each other as they speak
Holland, interestingly enough, dedicates "In Darkness" twice. At the film's beginning, she singles out Marek Edelman, the Jewish leader of the legendary Warsaw Ghetto rebellion. At the end, mention goes to the more than 6,000 Poles, more than any other nationality, who are recognized as Righteous Gentiles by the Israeli government for having risked their lives to save Jews. "In Darkness" shows us how extraordinarily fraught that choice was.
'In Darkness' -- 4 stars
MPAA rating: R (for violence, disturbing images, sexuality, nudity and language)
Running time: 2:25