Talented British actress Natalie Dormer gets one of her most substantial movie roles in the classy cat-and-mouse thriller “In Darkness.” Co-written by Dormer and director Anthony Byrne with echoes of “Wait Until Dark” and “A History of Violence,” the film is impressive as a star vehicle, if a bit rickety as an action picture.
Dormer plays Sofia, an accomplished pianist living independently in London, only marginally inconvenienced by her blindness. The disability becomes a problem after a neighbor (played by Emily Ratajkowski) is flung to her death from an upstairs window — putting Sofia’s own life in danger.
“In Darkness” starts as a mystery, with Sofia investigating her dead neighbor’s shady Serbian father (Jan Bijvoet), while she herself is being closely watched by underworld types. About halfway through the film, the story takes a turn, as it becomes clearer there’s more to Sofia — and her connection to this murder — than she’s let on.
Byrne, a veteran of British TV crime shows like “Ripper Street” and “Peaky Blinders,” delivers a confident, crafty film; but his and Dormer’s script relies on so many back story dumps that they have trouble building tension and excitement.
That said, Dormer’s talent and charisma are evident every minute she’s on-screen. While “In Darkness” doesn’t exactly bring anything new to its genre, the star makes the most of a platform she’s long deserved — and that she apparently had to build herself.
Running time: 1 hour, 41 minutes
Playing: AMC Sunset 5, West Hollywood