‘Blu-ray or Bust’
DARK CRIMES (2016, R, 92 minutes, SABAN FILMS/RATPAC ENTERTAINMENT)
Jim Carrey has had an interesting career. With his star-making roles on “In Living Color” as, basically, the one funny white dude on a show created by and starring The Wayans family, to his hit turns as ACE VENTURA: PET DETECTIVE and “Lloyd” from DUMB AND DUMBER, he has been a comedic force that shifted from generation to generation.
Each role featured him as a larger-than-life character whose onscreen presence demanded your full attention. He was THE MASK (thank the Sweet Baby Hey-Zeus for “Cuban Pete”!), he was BRUCE ALMIGHTY—hell, he even played The Grinch in the first live-action adaptation of the Dr. Seuss classic. And he was manic in every one. His mania became his calling card, and his physical comedy the payoff to some of the funniest jokes.
Enter the new Jim Carrey. In what seems like a Robin Williams-type bid for attention to his dramatic acting skills, Mr. Carrey stars as disgraced ex-detective Tadek. He is a Polish policeman desperate to clean up his tarnished reputation by solving a murder, although vengeance against the system which knocked him down a peg is also at the top of his priority list. His crusade is not a well-defined bag o’ reasons—one of the mysteries of this film is his real motivation, which becomes more defined as the story slowly progresses.
Mr. Carrey’s performance here is a quiet one, far different from his previous roles. His carefully nuanced acting here is refined and, at times, remarkable when you consider that you haven’t really seen this side of him before. Like the late Mr. Williams, this is not a sudden turn to dramatic acting. THE MAJESTIC and ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND are two prime examples of his maturity in the art of acting; not that you can discount his comedy, as those over-the-top roles take a whole lot of energy that you just don’t see every day. Remember, Mr. Williams’ rapid-fire and physical comedy seemed to define him for generations, and he was lauded for his serious turns in THE DEAD POET’S SOCIETY and GOOD WILL HUNTING. So, don’t think this is new territory for Mr. Carrey—it’s just more refined and more dramatic than we’ve previously seen. Yes, his accent does fluctuate at times, but it isn’t enough to distract from the rest of his performance.
And he isn’t the only star here: Martin Csokas (THE EQUALIZER) plays an irascible author who becomes the focus of Tadek’s investigation, and the gorgeous Charlotte Gainsbourg is the damaged single mother Kasia, whose ties to the investigation and the suspect help redefine the role of the femme fatale. One way to look at this is to keep in mind that there are many, many more layers to every one of these characters than what is on the surface. You basically get every facet of the human condition here, most notably, of course, with that of the tortured Tadek.
The special features are underwhelming—included is one “making of” doc that does offer some insight that expands a little more than the typical, but that’s it. No doc special concerning the true story the film is based upon, nothing that shows how they set up some of those luxuriously executed long-shots, nothing about the unique editing style. You’ll notice, though, that the film was released overseas in 2016, and it is just now being released in the U.S., albeit on video. So, the studio is to thank for their lack of faith in putting much effort into the release.
While the film has a few flaws—keep in mind that this is a character study wrapped in a not-too-ambiguous mystery—it does make for a strong argument when it comes to Mr. Carrey’s acting prowess. There is true talent here, talent which borders on a different sort of artistry than we are used to seeing from him. Don’t ignore it.
Film Grade: B
Special Features: D+
Blu-ray Necessary: Not Necessary (although the shadows contrast nicely in the dreary, muted setting)
-- T.S. Kummelman