Taking place in former Czechoslovakia in the 1950s, In the Shadows tells the story of Captain Hakl, a top detective for the police force. While investigating a robbery, Hakl showcases his expertise by noticing sweat drops at the site of the safe that points to a particular overweight safe-breaker by the name of Kirsch. What seems to be an open and shut case becomes mysterious when Hakl discovers that Kirsch has been framed for the crime, leading him on a case to find out the truth. The deeper Hakl digs, the more attention turns his way, and things become even more devious when State Security takes over the trial. David Ondricek's In the Shadows is a bleak, dramatic thriller set against the backdrop of the impending financial crisis in Czechoslovakia. It makes perfect sense that In The Shadows was Polish's submission for the 2012 Oscars, given its Noir-like roots, straight-forward narrative structure, and themes. The film essentially pits Captain Hakl against the power of political corruption, showcasing the power and weight behind a government's actions good or bad. Early on the film does a nice job establishing how Captain Hakl is a family man. This is important given that the film's other major point revolves around the importance of family and what men are willing to do to save their own. Even though Captain Hakl and Zenke, the State Security lead detective, are at odds for most of the film, they are very similar, both being men who are merely doing what they believe is best for their family. One of my favorite scenes of the film is when Hakl explains to his son what he is up against by using a Moby Dick analogy. He explains that the government is just like the indestructible squid in his son's book, but he must do his best to fight it. Aesthetically the film is very Noir-like, using shadows effectively throughout but I was hoping the film would have been a little more expressionistic. In the end, David Ondricek's In the Shadows is a bleak, dark noir-style thriller about political corruption and the importance of family.
Love of all things cinema brought me here.