USA | Great Britain 2015
Opening June 4, 2015
Directed by: Daniel Espinosa
Writing credits: Richard Price, Tom Rob Smith
Principle actors: Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, Noomi Rapace
1953, Moscow, a decorated WW II officer, a devoted employee of the Ministry of State Security, Leo Demidov (Hardy) refuses to denounce his wife Raisa (Rapace) as a traitor. The family is stripped of all the privileges and exiled to a faraway industrial city. It looks like the beginning of the end. Leo starts anew as a lowest rank militiaman, when a murder of a boy shocks the town. He is sure he saw this marker before: in Moscow, prior to his arrest, his friend’s son was found slaughtered near the railway. Since a murder is a strictly capitalist disease, the death was claimed to be a train accident. As Leo and his superior General Michail Nesterov (Oldman) dig deeper into the investigation, they realize they are hounding on a serial killer of 44 children.
The movie is based on the same-named bestseller by Tom Rob Smith published in 2008. The book discloses and scrutinizes the situation of agonizing terror at the end of the Stalin era: the period in the late Russian history where people’s life, dignity and self-worth had no value at all. Not only in order to survive, but also to “enjoy the privilege to die fast, without being tortured”, people were forced to accept absurd accusations of being enemies and traitors, denouncing their families, destining others to suffering.
Where did it start, how could human-beings turn into cold-blooded savages? Child 44 touches slightly upon this issue. To make the movie more attractive to the western audience this heavy weighed content was draped around a relatively frail story of a serial killer. However the wrapping is too heavy and voluminous to be a mere opening sequence. It overplays the actual story and the viewer tends to lose its track. If you plan to watch a thriller, enjoy the beautifully tense play of Hardy and Rapace, follow their faces, gestures, to feel what a man could feel in a country, where anyone could become outlaw anytime. Should you try to dig deeper, read the book. (Anna S.)