Review: ‘Tale in the Darkness’

A lonely, lovelorn femme cop mopes around a seaside town for a blessedly brief 77 minutes.

A lonely, lovelorn femme cop mopes around a seaside town for a blessedly brief 77 minutes in the Russian drama “Tale in the Darkness.” Although strong-featured lead thesp Alisa Khazanova proves watchable throughout, helmer Nikolai Khomeriki’s second feature has little more going for it than the fact that it’s more accessible than his last, the obscure and soporific sci-fi squib “Nine Seven Seven.” Pic’s lousy international title makes it sound like a straight-to-ancillary horror movie, which may prove to be its only chance of earning coin offshore if buyers and auds pick it up by accident.

Although attractive and kind-hearted, policewoman Gelya (Khazanova) can’t seem to get a break. She works with abused and neglected kids, but despite her efforts to be nice, the tykes are just as mean to her as they are to her colleagues. Lovers run when they learn she’s a cop, and no one will even be her partner for a dancing class, apart from creepy flatfoot Dimych (Boris Kamorzin). Oblique script offers little character insight. It’s like a miserablist “Bridget Jones” in Russian, but with a skinny heroine and no laughs. Craft contributions are unremarkable.

Tale in the Darkness

Russia

Production

A Koktebel Film Co. production. (International sales: Koktebel, Moscow.) Produced by Roman Borisevich, Alexander Kushaev. Co-producer, Elena Kulikova. Directed by Nikolai Khomeriki. Screenplay, Alexander Rodionov, Khomeriki.

Crew

Camera (color, Super 16-to-35mm), Alisher Khamidkhodzhaev; editor, Dasha Danilova; production designer, Liudmila Diupina; costume designer, Elena Baenko. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (Un Certain Regard), May 21, 2009. Original title: Skazka pro Temnotu. Running time: 77 MIN.

With

Alisa Khazanova, Boris Kamorzin, Yuri Safarov, Dmitri Podnozov.

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