Saturday, June 2, 2018

Movie Reviews: In Darkness

In Darkness
directed by Anthony Byrne
Margaery Tyrell and Daario Naharis team up in London
In Darkness is a slow burning British thriller that has multiple twists, none of which will be revealed here. It might be a just a bit too smug and smart for the target audience. It has some similarities to the classic movie Wait Until Dark. If you like this sort of mystery thriller it's probably a movie worth watching more than once to see the things that you missed. The movie makes no concession to listeners not native to the UK who will hear some occasionally very strong British accents. Either the viewer/listener will get it or s/he won't. Things are made worse on this front by dialogue that's intermittently drowned out by action or soundtrack. But although the audio is sometimes a bit iffy the visuals are lush and rich. 

This film looks really good, even the portions which are shot in low light or darkness.The colors and sets are lavish.  Byrne co-wrote this film with its star, his girlfriend Natalie Dormer, who also produced. The film's first half is crammed full of the sort of visual and auditory techniques which bring unease to the viewer without revealing very much in terms of story. I loved this. The second half shows us more even as the action ramps up. But the director hides things in plain sight. Like an elaborate con this movie has a lot of hidden layers and unanswered questions. This is a movie that with a few violent or sexual scenes excised would have worked well as a film noir in the forties or fifties. 

Sofia (Natalie Dormer-Margaery Tyrell from HBO's Game of Thrones) is a blind British classical pianist and London resident. Sofia lives in an apartment building with plenty of character. Sofia earns her living by working with an orchestra creating movie soundtracks.



Sofia is independent. There are no home nurse visits or seeing eye dogs for Sofia. Sofia's only concession to her disability is her ubiquitous collapsible cane. Sofia has a pretty structured and apparently empty life. She leaves from and arrives at work at the same time every day. She doesn't have any men, family or friends in her life. Sofia's only routine human contact is with her attractive upstairs neighbor Veronique (Emily Ratajkowski in full cleavage effect). 

The two women say hello from time to time. Sofia answers some music questions for Veronique. Veronique answers some perfume questions for Sofia. But one night Sofia hears some arguing upstairs in Veronique's apartment. Shortly afterwards Veronique is found dead outside of the apartment building. It appears that she jumped. So the police might be ready to declare it a suicide. The problem is that Veronique is the daughter of a Serbian warlord/businessman Milos Radic (Jan Bijvoet) who could face war crimes charges. So the police, in the person of a dogged detective Mills (Neil Maskell from Kill List) want to be sure that Veronique's death really was suicide. Mills thinks that Sofia must have heard something or even smelled something that could be useful. Another person who is very interested in what Sofia knows is Marc (Ed Skrein, the original Daario from HBO's Game of Thrones) who may have been the last man to see Veronique alive. Joely Richardson has a small but important part.

I thought Dormer inhabited this role. She was a good fit. The disability is central to the character and the story. There are many times when Sofia is unaware of being watched or threatened. The film has many twists and changes throughout the storyline, some of which you might see coming, and others which you almost certainly won't. Unfortunately the writing and chain of events get a little convoluted in the second half of the film, which is a shame. The film dramatically changes in theme and texture. But then again there's nothing wrong with something that makes you think and doesn't spoon feed. So YMMV on this. In Darkness is a clever film which runs just under two hours. There is some cleavage, a sex scene, and fleeting violence.
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