In Darkness review: Known for her roles in Game of Thrones and The Hunger Games, Natalie Dormer makes her first foray into producing and writing for this dark, violent, stylish and taut crime-thriller.
In Darkness review by Awais Irfan.
Sofia (Dormer) is a blind pianist that mostly keeps herself to herself, every so often indulging in small talk with her neighbours; one of these girls, the exuberant Veronique (Emily Ratjkowski), lives above Sofia and the pair often have small but meaningless exchanges in the hall. When Sofia hears the murder of Veronique take place from her apartment one night, she takes it upon herself to find out just what happened and finds herself entangled in the seedy criminal underworld of London – pursuing the dangerous megalomaniac Radic (Jan Bijvoet) and pursued herself by the mysterious Marc (Ed Skrein) and a hotshot detective (Neil Maskell) on Veronique’s case too.
Related: Papillon review
As obvious a statement as it seems to be to make, In Darkness is a pretty dark affair. Not only in just its title or its constantly winding and twisting narrative but its overall aesthetic and feel too – the sleek cinematography utilises a darker colour palette here, blending blues and greys but to great effect. Director and co-writer Anthony Byrne has done a very commendable job here in crafting a film that is constantly thrilling, thick with ambiguity and, yes, dark! The film perhaps opts more for “cinematic indulgence” than a sense of realism but it works for the story and what it sets out to achieve; it’s as slick, stylish and ludicrous a thriller as they come – full of as many plot twists as a good ol’ M. Night Shyamalan flick. But it’s done well, and tons of fun to watch.
The opening act feels rather clunky and you’d be forgiven for checking your watch because the film takes a minute to find its footing. However, once it does, it’s a thrill. The suspense is superbly orchestrated throughout and there are a plethora of great, thrilling sequences and the mystery that Byrne infuses is also handled well; the film sets up various little arcs and sprinkles details throughout that add a lot of intrigue into seeing how they develop. The performances are also wonderful; the supporting cast the likes of Ed Skrein, James Cosmo (because, of course, it’s not a British film without an appearance from the beloved Cosmo), Joely Richardson all managed to impress in their limited screen-time but this was Dormer’s show and the actress gave one of her finest performances to date. She really embodied Sofia and disappeared into the role; we empathise for her and the things she goes through but she’s equally as formidable and tough.
In Darkness is a blast. The pacing can be a little uneven at times and the story can get a little far-fetched and over-the-top but it’s executed with such assurance that it just works. It’s a very Hollywood film in nature but that’s not exactly a bad thing; if you can embrace this side of the film, there’s plenty of fun to be had with this. It’s dark, violent, stylish and taut; a thriller that is slick and compelling and, frankly, just quite a ride! Anthony Byrne has directed something pretty great here, anchored by a powerhouse performance from Natalie Dormer.
In Darkness review by Awais Irfan, June 2018.
In Darkness was reviewed at the 2018 Edinburgh International Film Festival.