It is suspenseful, horrifying and at times intensely moving. But the ease with which it elicits these responses from the audience feels more opportunistic than insightful.
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Watching the movie, you feel the constriction and the disgust of the life below, but Holland, pacing the film well, knows when to come up for air. Each time she does, the daylight seems like a benediction. [13 & 20 Feb. 2012, p 120]
In outline, In Darkness is a standard conversion melodrama, but little within those parameters is easy. The darkness lingers into the light.
You know the money-over-morality argument will eventually tilt toward righteousness, yet the film's turn toward charcoal-sketch notions of good and evil only fuels a simplistic view of historical tragedy in the worst sort of way.
It's a transformation as wrenching to watch as it is vital to remember.
In a world where everyone was looking for an angle, hoping to survive the nightmare and maybe even turn other people's misery into a tidy profit, the fact that a fragile humanity survived at all is little short of a miracle.
In Darkness takes its place among the many great European films to tackle the subject. Plenty of quality-seeking adult moviegoers will be lured to the arthouse and thoroughly moved.
In Darkness is gloomy and hard to take for a running time of 145 minutes, but it's an important film, related with deep conviction, and uncompromising in its understanding of the remarkable things members of the human race have done - to, for, and against each other - in the wilderness of war.
This story of suffering and almost inadvertent humanitarianism is harrowing, engrossing, claustrophobic and sometimes literally hard to watch.
Holland has said that she wanted her harrowing and rewarding epic to run long so it would make viewers feel that they're in the sewers as well. In this, she succeeds.