Starring Jim Carrey, Marton Csokas, Charlotte Gainsbourg
Written by Jeremy Brock
Directed by Alexandros Avranas
A film based on a true story, Dark Crimes is a loose adaptation of the 2008 article “True Crime: A Postmodern Murder Mystery”, written by David Grann for The New Yorker. The piece goes into the case of Krystian Bala, a Polish writer who was found guilty of murder. He was figured out when authorities, on top of having physical evidence, realized that details in one of his books mirrored the case and featured details that only those associated with the investigation could have known. Bala is currently serving a 25-year sentence for his crimes.
In Dark Crimes, disgraced Polish Detective Tadek (Carrey) is relegated to what essentially amounts to a desk job after an unknown, unexplained event takes him off the streets. One day, he stumbles across some files that arouse his curiosity and he becomes convinced that an old murder case bears striking similarity to a recently released novel from renowned author Kozlow (Csokas). As Tadek ventures deeper into this new investigation, haunting secrets begin to emerge.
Much like 8MM, Dark Crimes‘ foundation is built upon the horrors inflicted upon sex workers. In this film’s case, it is a sex club where anything, up to and including rape, is permitted if the money is good. And much like 8MM, there is a pervasive miasma of unpleasantness and repugnancy coursing throughout this film’s 95-minute runtime. The story lacks coherence, creating a puzzling tale that tries desperately to use it’s admittedly impressive production design to carry the weight. However, drab, sparse, and dreary visuals aim to recall films like Seven but lack the ability to sickeningly fascinate.
As the story meanders about, unsure of how to progress and feeling like it almost makes it up as it goes along, the film ventures into darker territory for seemingly little to no reason. Tadek’s wife clearly has lost all interest in him and his daughter is so removed from the family relationship that she, quite literally, has nothing to say. Her health failing, Tadek’s mother makes him promise to be with her when she dies, a guilt-based relationship that calls to mind Father Karras’ from The Exorcist. Even Tadek himself ventures into the darkness through his interactions with Kasia (Gainsbourg), Kozlow’s girlfriend.
Csokas is engaging as the subtly psychotic author Kozlow, delivering his lines with charisma. Gainsbourg’s Kasia is a role that she owns but is little more than her being exploited by everyone else. Only towards the end does she reclaim her autonomy but it’s too late by then for the film, and her character, to be interesting.
Giving a fantastic performance, Carrey is nearly unrecognizable, his hair cropped short and his thick beard more gray than not. Combine his weary and subtly-yet-hypnotically expressive face with a soft accent and this is as far removed from his comedic past as the actor has ever ventured. We’ve seen his dramatic side in The Truman Show, Man on the Moon, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. But if he decides to continue pursuing acting in the second half of his life, it’s easy for this to be seen as the springboard towards bold and daring roles that will challenge viewers’ expectations as much as it challenges Carrey himself.
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