Set in German-occupied Belarus in 1942, the interplay of people and events slowly bind the characters into a trap: Sushenya has apparently collaborated with the Germans and is taken off into the woods by two partisans. Through flashbacks the truth, and the moral complexities behind it, is gradually revealed.
Set in the winter of 1942 in Nazi occupied Russia in the Fog is by far one of the bleakest film’s I have seen in some time, the emptiness experienced by the main character is so all consuming that, like a black hole, it reaches out from the screen and draws in all the warmth and goodness from the audience as well. For anyone who has ever heard the stereotypical argument that Eastern European cinema is depressing, I can assure you that whoever said it must have seen this film.
With a narrative that is both straight forward and deeply complicated In the Fog tells the story of a railway worker who attempts to stop his co-workers from sabotaging a train in order to get their superior in trouble with his Nazi boss. However when the plan backfires the entire team are brought to trial over the plot and sentenced to hanging all that is but the descanter amongst them who, after refusing to collaborate with the Nazi’s and inform on his comrades, is rather bizarrely sentenced to “life”.
After the other railway workers are hanged Sushenya, the dissenting worker, is considered by all within his small community to be a Nazi sympathizer and collaborator. Shunned by all those around him Sushenya finds himself longing for the release of death that seems to come so easily to all those around him.
Told through flashback the central characters of In the Fog play their parts perfectly, as though carrying the weight of the world with them they each strive for something that would to most seem horrific but is to them the only option left. The final moments of the movie when we return to Sushenya and learn that the two friends who took him for a walk in the woods at the start of the film, intending to put him out of his misery like a wounded dog, have in fact died whilst he has be telling his tale and once again he is left alone. This time however, with a revolver in his hand, one feels that perhaps he finally has the means to relieve himself of his burden.
And as the film closes on the sight of Sushenya sitting in the forest as a all encompassing and incapacitating fog descends on him I could not help but notice the dark beauty of that moment, and I then wondered to myself if the draining bleakness endured in the hour leading up to this was perhaps worth it after all.