Nazi-occupied Poland, 1943. Polish sewer worker and petty thief Leopold Socha (Wieckiewicz) uses the city's fetid tunnels to conceal the loot he uses to support his family. But when a group of Jewish refugees ask him to hide them in exchange for cash, his fate suddenly hangs in the balance.
Since her international breakthrough Europa Europa, Poland’s best-known female director has been busy directing episodes of such acclaimed TV dramas as The Wire and The Killing. Her return to the big screen is a heavy-going yet rewarding drama, based on the harrowing true story of a group of Jews hiding in the sewage system of a Nazi-occupied Polish city (Lvov) during World War II, and the petty thief (Robert Wieckiewicz) who may prove to be their own Oskar Schindler. Much of the lengthy running time takes place in Stygian gloom, giving the audience a sense of what the protagonists suffered. When the darkness lifts, though, the award-winning cinematography astounds in Agnieska Holland’s heartfelt tale, a worthy addition to the canon of Holocaust survival stories.
Unlucky to miss out a Best Foreign Film Oscar, this moving war flick is a nerve-jangling odyssey into the underground world. Recommended.