There are millions of stories to tell about Nazism and the Holocaust — and in a million years, no way to fathom what happened. Those are only two reasons why the best films on the subject still have something new to reveal about the mysteries of human behavior. In Darkness, a harrowing nail-biter of a movie (and a Foreign Language Oscar nominee), introduces Leopold Socha (Robert Wieckiewicz), a Polish sewer worker and petty thief in the Nazi-occupied city of Lvov who hides a desperate group of eight Jews for 14 months in the sewers he knows so well. Socha’s goodness emerges in spite of himself: The fugitives have dug their way underground to escape liquidation of their ghetto when he discovers them in the inky, wet, rat-infested maze. The richest of them, a family man with a wife and two children, offers money for the Pole’s cooperation. The balance between life and death tilts on a terrible business deal.
The story is true. There really was a Leopold Socha who sheltered Jews in the dark. (One former sewer dweller is still alive today.) The fine Polish director Agnieszka Holland (Europa Europa) pays her respects with a daringly murky-looking movie that demands viewers enter the void too and meet Socha and his Jews as real, flawed men and women behaving in flawed ways under suffocating conditions. A-