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The film uses few really long takes and this works really well in some instances to create tension. Some scenes in In the Fog are really impressive and the first long tracking shot of the hanging of the three railroad workers really captures your attention. The Romanian film 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days used long takes like this to great effect but this movie doesn't quite reach the effectiveness of that movie overall despite some striking scenes. It isn't surprising that these movies reminded me of each other because they both had the same cinematographer, Oleg Mutu. That movie did a better job in creating that crushing atmosphere and it had better and more expressive actors. 4 Months really glued me to the screen as every single scene provided more information or improved the atmosphere and so on. Here many scenes seem either completely pointless or they're simply too long. For example, at one point a man comes out of a forest and starts walking towards a house. Great, I got it. Instead the movie decides that this scene should go on for a complete minute with the camera staying put following the guy slowly walking across a field. What did those tens of extra seconds really provide? Nothing other than boredom.
I thought the acting was a bit too understated to really take full advantage of the long takes. You would think a bleak situation like this would bring out some passion or emotion from someone for a moment at least. It's hard to say if the actors delivered the lines really well or not because I don't speak Russian. I'm sure native speakers can really pick up on tones and other smaller things and get more out of the movie. It was also unclear at times who was speaking in some scenes because everyone was talking in that same monotone voice. I had a bit of a problem with the pacing because the movie jumps many months very suddenly from fall to winter with flashbacks and so on, it took a while for me to figure that out.
The movie did highlight many interesting things about the randomness of war and the moral complexities of occupation. There should've been more discussions in the film though, I'm sure it couldn't have been that hard to come up with some topics relating to the dire situations of the main characters for them to talk about. I also appreciated the efforts the movie made towards being authentic, I really believed it was the 1940s again. The actors wear cloth wraps instead of socks for example so there's really nothing anachronistic there to take you out of the movie. It's a decent movie all in all but not a masterpiece or anything.
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