In Darkness (2018) 7 out of 10: Natalie Dormer co-wrote and stars in this thriller about a blind Bosnian war refugee in modern day London still haunted by ghosts of her past.
The Good: Ever since her turn on Game of Thrones as Margaery Tyrell, I could watch Natalie Dormer read a grocery list and at least be amused. She carries this film on her back and does an admirable job doing it.
Jan Bijvoet is a standout as Radic, the complete monster Serbian leader who likes to rape blind women. As an actor, Bijvoet sees the words on the page of the script and decides to turn it up to eleven, to everyone’s delight.
The film has some nice um scenes and stuff. Okay, we are just going to get to the bad and ugly aren’t we.
The Bad: There is a twist later in the film that a blind person could see coming. In fact, there are a couple of twists throughout the film that are a little too well telegraphed. I am not saying the plot is obvious, but the plot is obvious.
There are also a lot of scenes in the film that are (for lack of a better term) dead weight. They are just there. They add nothing to the narrative or character development. Two people chatting in a coffee shop is fine for a Romantic Comedy but can be deadly to a spy thriller. These characters drink a lot of coffee.
The Ugly: The Serbians are the bad guys. But of course they are the bad guys. After all, they kidnapped children and killed them to sell their organs on the black market. Oh wait, that was the Kosovo Liberation Army. Well, the Serbians had concentration camps, rape squads, and committed ethnic cleansing and massacres. And that certainly makes them a proper bad guy. They would be a better bad guy had the Bosnians and Albanians refrained from also having concentration camps, rape squads, and committing ethnic cleansing and massacres.
While I think we can all agree that the Serbians in general were the first or second worst group in the civil war (Kind of hard to beat killing children for their organs. Nice job, Kosovo.) There is plenty of room, however, for having the main character be a victim of any side of the war.
Having one of the other groups be the bad guys would have added a lot of shading and nuance to the story. It would have made Natalie Dormer’s character less cut and dry and perhaps allowed for a villain that wasn’t such a cartoonish over the top caricature. (Yes, I praise Jan Bjvoet’s performance above, but the character he is playing is such an over the top bad guy whom I am surprised he doesn’t randomly kick dogs while walking down the street.)
If Dormer’s character had the guilt of being a Serb and her tormentor was considered a hero by the public at large because of his command of, say, the Bosnian troops, I imagine a much better narrative.
In Conclusion: In Darkness is kind of pleasant to watch and doesn’t irritate as much as it disappoints. Just barely a recommendation due a lot to Dormer’s natural charms and an attractive location for shooting and sets. In Darkness also sports decent direction. Thrills and romance, though, are hard to find.
Wow, that is a lot of screenshots of Natalie Dormer.
Yes, yes, it is. In my defence, there are some fun shots of her love interest Ed Skrein and of the police detective Neil Maskell, who honestly steals every scene he is in.
I figure you got off easy. Imagine how many more screenshots there would be if I included both of Natalie’s nude scenes.