Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Natalie Dormer, Ed Skrein, Joely Richardson, Emily Ratajkowski, Jan Bijvoet, James Cosmo, Neil Maskell, Amber Anderson
Written by: Anthony Byrne, Natalie Dormer
Directed by: Anthony Byrne
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 100
Date: 05/25/2018
IMDB

In Darkness (2018)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Blind Boggling

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This thriller starts well and has many good things in it, especially a strong female character, co-created by Dormer herself, but the plot eventually becomes needlessly stretched-out and convoluted.

In In Darkness, Sofia (Natalie Dormer) is a blind pianist in London, working on the score of a horror movie. She returns home from work and runs into her upstairs neighbor, Veronique (Emily Ratajkowski); Later, Sofia hears a struggle, and then Veronique plunging out the window onto the pavement below. Meanwhile, Sofia has already agreed to play at a party for Veronique's father, Zoran Radic (Jan Bijvoet), a Serbian businessman accused of war crimes.

She encounters the sinister Radic and the prickly, intense Alex (Joely Richardson), as well as Marc (Ed Skrein), who was Veronique's lover. She learns that these three are after a USB drive, which Veronique has hidden somewhere in their apartment building. As danger closes in around her, Sofia begins to reveal her own dark secrets.

The setup of In Darkness is deliciously Hitchcockian, playing up the sounds around the main character and criss-crossing what she sees with what the audience can see. Perhaps if it had remained a minimalist story, staying in the apartment — like the Audrey Hepburn thriller Wait Until Dark — it might have gone somewhere interesting.

But the more it gets into espionage and USB drives and passwords and secret pasts, the more it trips itself up. Each new twist comes at the expense of what came before it, and it becomes clear that all of this trouble could have been avoided if characters had merely acted earlier.

Director and co-writer Anthony Byrne starts strong, with a bustling, daunting vision of a busy, glass-and-steel London, but eventually gets lost in showdowns and tense car rides. Skrein is chronically uninteresting, and Dormer is cool, but only Richardson looks like she's having any fun.

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