Film Review: A Dark, Dark Man

Detective Bekzat sat on his car smoking a cigarette

During the dissolution of the Soviet Union at the end of the twentieth century, most of the satellite states took the opportunity to declare their independence. As Russia gradually dipped its toes into capitalism, other nations took their own paths. Today, mostly thanks to oil and gas production, Kazakhstan dominates Central Asia. However, political reforms still lag behind and an authoritarian government has created a kind of new Wild West in the countryside. A Dark, Dark Man exists within this ecosystem.

Detective Bekzat (Daniar Alshinov) is sent to investigate the murder of a child in a rural Kazak village. A local policeman has found a man who has confessed to committing the crime, so there’s no need for an investigation. It’s an open and shut case which can be closed quickly. If the suspect commits suicide in custody, what can he do? This all changes when a journalist (Dinara Baktybaeva) arrives from the city, asking awkward questions. Bekzat has to do his job properly for the first time in his life.

A Dark, Dark man is a slow-burning crime drama which draws on the likes of Once Upon a Time in Anatolia and Memories of Murder but with a uniquely Kazak spin. Director Adilkhan Yerzhanov is becoming a regular on the European film festival circuit and his pessimistic spin on the corruption and oppression in his country is once again explored with dark humour and brutal frankness. A Dark, Dark Man is another wonderful and assured descent into the darkness.

A Dark, Dark Man streams in three one-hour instalments on MHz Choice in the US from 19 July.

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