There have been a lot of romantic period-style films out recently so this made a nice change for us as it is more of a dark thriller than romance and there’s only so many romantic films you can take in a row!
Child 44 follows Leo Demidov (Tom Hardy – a personal favourite of mine!) as a military policeman in the post WW2 Stalin-era. As part of the world they live in there is a saying that “There is no murder in paradise”, meaning that murders do not take place and anyone claiming to have had someone in their lives murdered will be punished severely themselves. So when Leo’s friend Vasili finds his son left dead by a railroad, naked and with his organs removed, he is forced to accept it as the tragic train accident that the police say it is. However when more young boys start to suffer similar fates Leo begins to question the ‘paradise’ within which they live where these crimes are not supposed to happen. Things are not helped by his wife Raisa (Noomi Rapace aka The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo) being named as a spy and when he refuses to denounce her he is demoted and exiled alongside her, but the two of them decide to continue their pursuit of the murderer whilst hiding from Leo’s ex-colleague who is out to stop them.
Overall the storyline is very gripping and at times slightly harrowing (one scene shows a man and his wife being shot in the heads in front of their young daughters) but the violence is not so much that it puts you off or distracts you from what is really going on. You also never see the boys being murdered which is good and the murderer himself is only revealed to us partway through the film so you are kept in suspense for the most part. The storyline is filled with dramatic tension as Leo and Raisa find themselves in tricky situations that could lead to several different outcomes!
The murder mystery is the main plot of the film but there is an underlying of romance (you can never really escape it!) as it turns out that Leo and Raisa are having problems within their marriage but their exile and their determination to find the killer brings out conversations and moments between the two which could save their marriage. Tom Hardy and Noomi Rapace are both excellent in these roles, you can really see this struggle in their relationship, one scene in particular which is fantastic is when they are finally opening up to each other about how they feel and you can really see the rawness in their characters. Tom Hardy is outstanding as Leo, he not only gives us the vulnerability of his character towards his love for his wife but also the strength and hardness needed for an officer in the Stalin-era. Only problem I had was his Russian accent did remind me of Gru from Despicable Me every so often…!
As well as Tom and Noomi the cast includes Gary Oldman (aka Sirius Black – although my friend who is a complete Potter freak didn’t realise who he was until we mentioned it after the film had ended!!) but he gives a brilliant performance as always and Charles Dance makes an appearance though disappointedly he only comes in at the end for one scene!
Child 44 really is an excellent film with a brilliant cast that will take you on a journey full of suspense and emotion. Tom Hardy gives us another sterling performance, cementing his acting abilities as being way above those around him. I really would recommend this film, it is one that will play on your mind for days after for all the right reasons!