Directed by Agnieszka Holland
Cornerhouse, 24 March 2012
It’s an impressive film, presenting an uncontrived and unsentimental account of an act of heroism in Lvov during World War Two.
Leopold Socha, a plumber, agrees to shelter various Jewish families who are seeking to evade deportation to the camps. He shelters them in the sewerage canals below the city, which he knows like the back of his hand, for money. Yet when the money runs out, he continues to help them.
What’s admirable about the film is the way in which Leopold gradually, and almost against his will, begins to act heroically. Then suddenly he’s a hero. The Jews are depicted as actively resisting the Nazis, rather than as passive victims, which also makes a welcome change. And the full horror of the Nazi occupation, its penchant for ruthless and systematic violence, is brought home. This is effectively contrasted with the fallible yet warm relationship between Leopold (Robert Wieckiewicz ) and his wife Wanda (Kinga Preis).
A fine film made without schmaltz.