Leopold Socha was a Polish sewer worker who took advantage of his position to shelter nearly two dozen Jews below street level during the Nazis’ liquidation of the Lvov ghetto in 1943; at first he charged for his silence, but after the refugees ran out of money he and his wife fed and cared for them until the Soviets liberated the city 14 months later. This dramatization of Socha’s story by Agnieszka Holland (Europa Europa) follows the same playbook as Schindler’s List, tracing the gentile protagonist’s emotional journey from opportunist to savior, though like many Polish prestige films it lingers in the memory less as a personal story than as an act of national self-congratulation. Robert Wieckiewicz is good as the conflicted protagonist, but the most valuable player here is cinematographer Jolanta Dylewska, who turns in handsome work even though most of the action transpires in inky blackness. In Polish with subtitles.
R • 2 hours 25 min • 2012