DVD Review – Dark Crimes

This film caused a bit of a stir a couple of months ago when the trailer came out. Previously known as True Crimes, it had been on the shelf since opening at the Warsaw Film Festival two years ago, which is usually not a good sign, and has been released with a new title. It’s one of those films that Jim Carrey does once in a while in an attempt to be edgy or serious which normally are great. There’s obviously a certain amount of goodwill towards him because of his past work on films such The Truman Show and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

However, Dark Crimes disappeared very quickly, and was soon released in the US on the VOD service DirecTV, while it went straight to DVD in Europe–not getting much hype over a film is a first for Carrey, as is a straight-to-video release.

Dark Crimes is based on a very interesting true crime story about a Polish criminal, Krystian Bala, from an article by David Grann (Grann, who wrote the book on which great The Lost City of Z was based, was not involved in the film). However, the source material has been almost completely fictionalized for the movie. It starts rather audaciously with an orgy scene. Carrey appears as Tadek, a detective who has been laid off but is still reporting to his senior officer and working in some capacity that is never quite clear. There’s been a businessman murdered,  and the unsolved case is identical to a novel written by a nihilistic writer called Koslow. Carrey starts investigating the theory that Koslow (Marton Csokas) is actually the murderer. It seems like he might be, but is it a red herring?

Charlotte Gainsbourg comes into the picture, a prostitute who has been at the sex club where the murder (and the orgy) happened, and has also had relations with Koslow. What does she know?

The director is Greek filmmaker Alexandros Avranas. I have a sneaking suspicion that the final film was seriously tampered with by the producers, either during the production or during the editing process. The plot is all over the place, Tellingly, one of the producers credited is Brett Ratner, a very creepy guy who is sure to be the next to go down after Harvey Weinstein. He’s a hack, and might be the cause—who knows? The film has been chopped by 12 minutes since its film festival debut.

Carrey tries really hard with his Russian/Irish/American-trying-to-be-Polish accent. He’s perfectly fine other than that. Gainsbourg is totally wasted in the film, unfortunately, as she all too often is. New Zealand actor Marton Csokas has all the best lines and really steals it. There’s a decent twist and a surprise ending, but by that point most viewers won’t care. But for a film that’s destined to be at the bottom of someone’s Netflix queue, it’s not terrible but it’s not good either. Luckily, it’s only 88 minutes long.

On the plus side, Carrey has a TV show coming out soon that will be directed by Michel Gondry, and that’s likely to be awesome. This film certainly won’t be his comeback vehicle.

★★½

Ian Schultz

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