Magazine article Screen International

'Child 44': Review

Magazine article Screen International

'Child 44': Review

Article excerpt

Dir: Daniel Espinosa. US/UK/Czech Republic/Romania. 2015. 137mins

Safe House director Daniel Espinosa ventures into David Fincher territory with Child 44, a sprawling serial killer drama set during the final months of Stalinist rule in Russia. It lacks the intensity and craftof Fincher's work but offers a solid, serviceable adaptation of Tom Rob Arthur's bestselling novel, the first in a trilogy featuring the character of idealistic state security operative Leo Demidov (Tom Hardy).

The combination of the successful source material, an A-list cast (Hardy, Gary Oldman, Noomi Rapace, Paddy Considine etc) and the unusual setting should help position the film as a mid-range thriller for those who like the visceral attractions of violence and bloodshed balanced with the more cerebral pleasures of political intrigue and detective work. Rolling out internationally from April 15, Child 44's commercial chances may also be boosted by Tom Hardy fans who could welcome it as an aperitif before the main course of Mad Max next month.

Hardy's fully committed central performance is the film's greatest asset. Like every member of the English-speaking international cast, he sports an acceptable 'Russian' accent. It is the combination of his swaggering physical presence and emotional torment that lends complete conviction to the character of Leo Demidov. He provides the audience with an unwavering human connection throughout a hectic plot in which other characters are shortchanged and some situations remain underdeveloped.

Demidov is originally a Ukrainian orphan who reinvents himself as a Soviet hero photographed raising a Russian flag over the vanquished Reichstag in 1945. Eight years later, he is a ruthless, uncritical arm of the Soviet system, rooting out corruption and punishing opposition. The film begins with a title declaring "there is no murder in paradise" and it becomes an oft-repeated mantra, accumulating layers of irony as Demidov is faced with the kind of crimes and misdemeanours that officially cannot exist in this glorious worker's state. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.