In the Fog (Loznitsa, 2012): Germany | Netherlands | Belarus | Russia | Latvia
Reviewed by Samuel Ek. Viewed on November 5th at AFI Filmfest
Someone once told me that the worst thing that you could ever do as a director was to fall in love with your own footage. Unfortunately this is exactly Sergei Loznitsa did. He comes from a background of lots of short documentaries that are all very beautifully shot. Sadly this works against him in his third feature attempt “In the Fog”. It’s a very beautifully shot movie that drags on way too long. It feels as if he wants to show the viewer exactly how beautiful the cinematography really is but this results in a feeling of uncomfortableness for the viewer that doesn’t work with the movie. I watched this at the AFI film festival and unfortunately I have to say that I was not the only one in the theater that dozed off a couple of times. The performances of the three lead characters Vladimir Svirsky, Vladislav Abashin and Sergei Kolesov are not particularly rememberable which is sad since this is a very dialogue driven movie that would have required strong performances thus it was doomed to not reach it’s true potential seeing as this was their acting debuts.
In the Fog is based on the 1989 novel by Vasil Bykaw with the same name and is set in World War 2 German occupied territory and follows the two resistance fighters Burov and Voitik and the civilian Sushenya who is being wrongly accused of collaboration with the Germans. But where other movies about being wrongly accused such as The Hunt, this movie doesn’t have a Mads Mikkelsen who can convey the right emotions and compel the audience to feel for or care about the innocent. Instead it becomes a long haul of boredom, meaningless interaction and conversation between the three characters. The only thing that I feel keep this movie afloat was it’s beautiful exterior settings and cinematography. Since the shooting toke place in the forests of Latvia the movie really has those lush and beautiful trees that it needs and cinematographer Oleg Mutu really shows that this is not his first time playing in the forrest, he does a beautiful job lighting the snow in the exterior night shots that really help convey the coldness and desperation of the situation.
In the Fog shares the concept and feeling as Peter Weirs “The Way Back” but while Weir had actors such as Collin Farrell and Ed Harris at his disposal he could get away with the small things and moments in the movie that are covered in awkwardness.In addition to that In the Fog could really have benefitted from a faster paced editing. To conclude I would not recommend this movie unless you only care about beautiful cinematography and not well developed story.