Saturday, August 15, 2015

Film Review: Child 44 (2015)

Copyright: Lionsgate
There are a lot of hard, fake-sounding Russian accents in this film. Imagine as if every male character tried to sound like an actor from the original C&C: Red Alert game – we’re talking weird emphasis on random words and a tendency to overly dramatize everything being said, because, apparently, that’s how people talked back in the dark days of the USSR. 

Its director Daniel Espinosa leaves this to be the strongest impression of the Child 44 film, which meanders through its characters and the soviet state that was organized, according to the film, in a very incoherent manner.

Its case is not helped by the fact that Tom Hardy and Gary Oldman lead a great cast, or the fact that Noomi Rapace once again creates an unusual and engaging character. This story of the film was moved to the big screen from a Tom Rob Smith’s novel by the same name. 

Like in his novel The Secret Speech, Smith analyzes the post-war soviet society to the level of the most miniscule details, which ultimately serves the story of the book. This gives the narrative both an environment-as-a-character feel, but also provides a twisted, but a logical motivation for many protagonists of his stories.

In the film, this makes the presented USSR only into an intangible bureaucratic hell, which is more confusing than scary – who is subordinate to whom and who is trying to get rid of Tom Hardy’s character – it’s all too convoluted to be truly entertaining and at the same time, it stopped me from creating a connection with the characters. Finally, all of this steals the story away from the series of murders that should be its backbone.

In a sense, presenting USSR in the early 50’s often comes out as a weird alternative history in which Nazi Germany won the war and simply told its visual graphics department to exchange the swastika for a red star. In Child 44, this notion is obvious and unlike Citizen X, which made me root for the investigators, turns all the characters into frightened and confused jerks in their own right. Because of this, the only thing I could say to Daniel Espinosa is – too bad, comrade.

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