In the Fog (4 stars)

In the Fog

A stately, austere and richly atmospheric war film from director Sergei Loznitsa

‘I have done nothing wrong,’ insists railway worker Sushenya (Vladimir Svirskiy), when two local partisans Burov (Vladislav Abashin) and Voitik (Sergei Kolesov) call on his modest family home. We’re in occupied Belarus in 1942, and a group of saboteurs has been executed in the local square by the German authorities. Given that Sushenya was rounded up with the victims, but then released by the officer-in-command (Vlad Ivanov), it’s assumed that he must have informed on his colleagues. Burov and Voitik lead him at night into the depths of the surrounding forest, preparing to take revenge …

Written and directed by Sergei Loznitsa (My Joy), this restrained yet rigorous drama avoids conventional battlefield sequences and instead recalls Jean-Pierre Melville’s sublime Resistance epic Army of Shadows in the way it explores the harrowing moral choices experienced by individuals in wartime. In order for Sushenya to retain his humanity, will he be forced to die? For if everyone in his community believes he is a traitor, how can he continue to live?

Given its lack of music, its sparse dialogue and its lengthy takes, the stately In the Fog is an undeniably austere war film. Yet thanks to the richness and precision of its compositions (courtesy of the impressive Romanian cinematographer Oleg Mutu), and the carefully layered sound design, it’s a richly atmospheric work. A trio of extended flashback sequences fill in the background stories of its three lead characters, the performances possess a powerful authenticity, whilst the poignancy of the fog-bound finale lingers in the mind.

Limited release from Fri 26 Apr.

In the Fog (V Tumane) trailer - Australian release in 2013

In the Fog

  • 4 stars
  • 2012
  • Germany / Netherlands / Belarus / Russia / Latvia
  • 2h 7min
  • 12A
  • Directed by: Sergei Loznitsa
  • Written by: Sergei Loznitsa, Vasili Bykov
  • Cast: Vladimir Svirskiy, Vladislav Abashin, Sergei Kolesov
  • UK release: 26 April 2013

A man wrongly accused of collaboration during the German occupation of the USSR must make an impossible decision.