Dark Crimes

A disgraced former police detective obsesses over the cold case of an unsolved murder; removed from active investigations he has managed to remain within the force, partially protected by those who recognise that he was a good officer, now spending his days re-examining old evidence in the vain hope of finding something which may have been overlooked.

The victim a visitor to an underground club which catered to the extreme tastes of wealthy businessmen, The Cage, unlike the hostesses the patrons are untouchable, they being the ones who do all the touching. The club now closed, the former landlord recalls that other parts of the building were occupied by artists, some of them now famous, among them the writer Krzysztof Kozlow.

His last novel unpublished, it is available as an audio download, a tale of a club of acts of extremity and degradation which culminates in a murder, the specifics of which match the killing of Daniel Sawdowski, details never released to the public, almost as though Kozlow were taunting the police with an oblique and public confession.

Directed by Alexandros Avranas from a script written by The Eagle‘s Jeremy Brock, Dark Crimes is inspired by the murder of Dariusz Janiszewski in Wrocław in 2000 by Krystian Bala who later worked details of the crime into his debut novel; a Polish/American co-production filmed in Kraków in late 2015, the film premiered the following year at the Warsaw Film Festival but only now receives a belated wider release.

A controversial, confrontational figure who writes exploitation novels of misogynist torture porn and whose public appearances are media circuses of headline-grabbing soundbites and manipulative self-serving lies, Dream House‘s Marton Csokas gives a sneering, arrogant performance as Kozlow, a man convinced of his intellectual superiority.

In contrast, Kick-Ass 2‘s Jim Carrey shows stoic resolve as Tadek, never clear whether his determination stems from a desire to restore his reputation or because he cannot allow the crime to remain unsolved, a man becoming a stranger to his wife and daughter whose rituals border on obsessive compulsive as he cuts his eggs and bacon.

While it rewarding to see Carrey acting rather than gurning, Brock’s murky script does not stretch his dramatic capability, Dark Crimes told incrementally through hunches, following emotion rather than evidence as Tadek becomes as erratic and irrational as his prime suspect, a puppet played by his superiors and his quarry.

Melancholia‘s Charlotte Gainsbourg similarly required to do little beyond play a victim of physical and psychological abuse, a role she has already performed many times, Dark Crimes is a thriller without thrills, disappointingly timid despite the subject matter and the drably evocative locations, the run-down suburbs of post-Communist Poland steeped in decay and corruption.

Dark Crimes is now available on DVD and download from Signature

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