Starring: Vladimir Svirskiy, Vladislav Abashin, Sergei Kolesov
You may like this if you like: Beyond the Hills (Cristian Mungiu, 2012), Come and See (Elem Klimov, 1985), Apocalypse Now (Francis Ford Coppola, 1979)
It is 1942, and in the German occupied Western frontiers of the USSR a Russian man, Sushenya (Vladimir Svirskiy) is accused of collaboration with the German army. However, in war nothing is ever quite so simple. After escaping an attack from Nazi soldiers, Sushenya and the two Russian soldiers that have been sent to kill him learn more about each other’s stories; they are all faced with impossible moral choices and start to question everything.
I am lucky enough to have never directly experienced war, and I hopefully never will, and In the Fog is a thoughtful and tragic sermon like take on the idea that in time of war, no one can control their own fate. With a running time of over two hours, In the Fog is essentially a series of scenes (some flashbacks) that tell the individual and complex stories of these three men. The narrative structure emphasising that in such difficult situations nothing is ever straight forward, and people are often forced to make impossible life or death choices that have to be explained to be fully understood. With long takes and frequent intense close ups, the atmosphere is often unbearable, with dead silence feeling as sinister as the sound of gunfire.
All three actors give understated but emotionally charged performances that perfectly depict that in times of war it is never a simple case of heroes and villains. The film’s slow pace and structure does require patience and concentration, but it is infinitely rewarding as it poses some deep questions that will stay with you for a long time, making people like me so glad they have never had to experience such horrific situations. It is Loznitsa’s thoughtful and measured approach to this film that allows us to truly empathise with the situation of all three characters as the narrative develops. It is a film with a bleak and ultimately tragic message, with an ending that is both affecting and haunting. This for me is one of those films that stays with you and gets better and more poignant the more you think about it.
Emotionally draining but infinitely rewarding, In the Fog is a poignant and haunting depiction of humanity at its darkest and most tragic hour.