Monday, 18 January 2016

Child 44.

A grand cast doesn’t always equate to a grand film and one such case in point is Daniel Espinosa’s Child 44 (2015). Espinosa you may remember was the director behind the best of the Easy Money trilogy Snabba Cash (2010) and two of the stars from the trilogy appear in this latest movie, Joel Kinnaman plays Vasili Nikitin a middle-ranking officer in the Ministry of State Security (MGB) and Fares Fares who plays Alexi Andreyev. The main star and the films narrative backbone is the popular British actor Tom Hardy who plays Leo Demidov. As a child Demidov was orphaned during the Holodomor[1] in the Ukrainian SSR that took place in the 1930’s but manages to escape from the orphanage and is taken in by some kindly Soviet soldiers eventually becoming a war hero. After the war Leo Demidov becomes a MGB agent and uncovers a series of child murders but the MGB leadership refuse to except the death as murders because Soviet doctrine states that murder only occurs in capitalist country’s “There can be no murder in paradise” One of the dead children is the son of Leo’s best friend Alexi Andreyer and even he does not believe that his son has been murdered! The female lead in our story, which incidentally is based on a novel of the same name published in 2008, is another favourite of Movie Ramble Noomi Repace who plays Leo’s wife Raisa. When Raisa is accused of being disloyal to the state Leo refused to denounce her, both are sent to the town of Volsk and given demeaning jobs.  Both suspect that Vasili Nikitin is behind their downfall. Other well known and respected actors the calibre of Gary Oldman, Vincent Cassell, Paddy Considine, Charles dance and Tara Fitzgerald all have prominent roles in the movie.
Even a cast this good can't rescue this movie. 
But as I said at the beginning of this ramble a well known and respected cast does not always mean that what we are about to see is going to be something to rejoice over and I must say that this is true in the case of this movie. On the face of it this should have been an exciting mystery thriller but I’m afraid it’s completely lacking any real excitement, Its far to long, the story is made too complicated when there is no need to bogged down with unnecessary subplots.  The heavy “Russian” accents of the various actors force you to put on the subtitles to help understand what’s being said. Perhaps someone could explain to me why the story was not centred on the murder mystery, why the film was not made with East European actors with undertitles and why everything had to be so dark? The Ministry of Culture had the good sense to block the screening in Russia, as did other Eastern Block countries - but it was made available on DVD in these same countries even Russia has a bargain bin!

[1] A man-made famine in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1932 and 1933 that killed an estimated 2.5–7.5 million Ukrainians, with millions more counted in demographic estimates. It was part of the wider disaster, the Soviet famine of 1932–33, which affected the major grain-producing areas of the country.

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