A Murky Labyrinth By Luminita Comsa Boerescu
in 5th Cluj Transsilvania International Film Festival
In the middle of a good selection of exiting, sophisticated and provocative films, as the selection of TIFF – Cluj usually is, one can sometimes find titles which surprise the audience by their apparent simplicity.
That’s the case of the Danish film Murk, directed by Jannisk Johansen. The appearance of simplicity is given by the linear story: Jacob, an ex- journalist, can’t accept the fact that his handicapped sister had committed suicide during her wedding night with a kindly fat man called Anker. Jacob knew that his sister loved life and that she wouldn’t make such a gesture, because she was too intelligent. Was she killed? By whom and why? He decides to discover the truth, even if it means entering into a dangerous cat and mouse game. Apparently, nothing new and nothing special in this story. But each time Jacob discovers a new detail that can help him, an unknown enemy builds another labyrinth of mysteries which destroy his conviction or transform him into a potential murder suspect. This type of Hitchcockian story has a magnetic power. The audience, like Jacob himself, knows the truth. But they are immobilized by fear and panic that Jacob would not be able to prove it to others. And if so, there is the danger of a crazy criminal remaining free and a normal man, considered crazy, being shut up somewhere in a prison or in a hospital. There is also the danger of trusting people, because, at any moment, they could take us for a criminal. Isn’t this what is happening more and more these days? The film seems to be a powerful visual and metaphorical example of this.
Each of the few characters of the movie are very well and naturally portrayed by a strong team of talented actors, headed by Nikolaj Lie Kaas as Jacob and Nicolas Bro, in the complicated role of Anker. In addition, Laerke Winter Andersen, Laura Drasbaek and Lotte Bergstrøm, excellently portray a gallery of complicated women.
The silent and desolate fields are as gloomy and empty as are the souls of the characters, and the small villages, with their apparently quiet atmosphere, are credibly illustrated by the cinematographer Rasmus Videbaek (Noi the Albino).
Like all the great movies, Murk is a film that can’t be easily forgotten and which gives the audience the strong feeling that each moment is a part of their own lives.