A masterful con job. Child 44 tricks you in believing it´s a mystery / thriller. But in truth is a harsh historical drama that confronts you with the unrelenting Stalinist regime.
Child 44 is a film that will make you feel uncomfortable and will depress you a lot. You will witness some things that a lot of people today living in the West can't even imagine. Child 44 shows us how life was in a totalitarian state. In this case Russia (early 1950's). But you could take it broadly and apply it to all those nations where the state decides everything for you and how to live your life. Not knowing or having any freedom at all. For the majority this will be a scary notion and will make it hard to accept the events that pass by on the screen. Is it good that we get to see these things? I do think so. It's good to get confronted and reminded how precious freedom is and how important it is that we keep fighting for it. But if you are unprepared for it you won't have a pleasurable viewing experience. This is one of those movies that most of us would rather skip since it will make you sad and angry.
The acting in this film is really good. Most of the characters that matter are fleshed out well enough as you can relate to them in some way. But some are just caricatures and only used to make a point. Which in this case is effective but not that necessary. Since there is enough going on to make you feel sick. It was the narrative that I had problems with. The main draw which is the serial killer plot almost seems like it does not matter that much. What should have been the most compelling and thrilling turns out to be a little more than an afterthought. There is too much focus on the misery of the people living in the Stalinist regime. I think this is the main complaint many people will have since most of us love a good old murder mystery and will be disappointed not to have enough of it.
I do have to note that atmospheric wise Child 44 has a lot in common with those British crime drama's. But Child 44 won't be for everyone. The tone and feel is depressing and dark. What makes it even worse is that it is based on truth. Communism under people like Stalin were far removed from the Marxist ideology it sprung from. Because like with any political system you always will have people with a hunger for power and will abuse it whenever they can. But this is a good film for those who need to be reminded why we should be critical and fight the powers that be.