Jim Carrey’s latest movie, Dark Crimes, opened to little fanfare this weekend, not showing up in any of the box office round ups (which usually means the distributor isn’t releasing its numbers), and, as of this writing, remains 0% recommended on RottenTomatoes, pitching a full Bucky Larson.
Carrey himself is never out of the news cycle for long, though lately it seems to be more for things like being the subject of a Netflix documentary (Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond, which I’m convinced is about the incredible patience of Man On The Moon‘s film crew) and his George W. Bush-like second career as an anti-Trump artist. That seems to be going pretty well, actually. Pulitzer Prize-winning art critic Jerry Saltz recently reached out to Carrey to discuss his work, and he’s up to 17 million Twitter followers — surely due at least in part to his #resistance paintings.
The point in mentioning all of this though, is that lately we haven’t been seeing him do much acting. He’s been in just two movies since Dumb And Dumber To in 2014, Dark Crimes and The Bad Batch, both filmed at least two years ago. If you didn’t catch The Bad Batch at a festival, it’s getting a theatrical run next month. Dark Crimes, meanwhile, which had one of the funniest posters this year, came out this past weekend.
Why did they only turn one of the Rs backwards? It’s almost too twisted…
The film was directed by Greek director Alexandros Avranas in his English-language debut and scripted by Jeremy Block, who won a BAFTA for co-writing Last King Of Scotland. And the story was based on a real-life murder case described in 2008 in a New Yorker article by David Grann (author of The Lost City Of Z and Killers of The Flower Moon), ‘True Crime, A Postmodern Murder Mystery.’ Which makes it all the more strange that the movie poster looks like it’s for a rejected Law and Order episode.
It should be noted that despite its 0% rating, Dark Crimes doesn’t sound like the most hated movie of the year. RottenTomatoes’ binary tracking system only records “fresh” or “rotten,” and Dark Crimes seems like less a case of intense hatred than of consistent mild dislike (I believe it was Machiavelli who once said, “If you can’t be loved, be consistently mildly disliked). Lots of critics said Carrey was the best part, or above the material, though plenty of others said he was no fun (probably because he wasn’t making his butt talk like he used to). A few pointed out that it was probably in poor taste to have Brett Ratner’s name precede a movie about sexual violence, considering all that’s been going on with him lately.
Anyway, I wasn’t able to catch the film, but as we like to do, I thought we could recreate most of the plot using only exposition from the reviews. The way critics slip into exposition when reviewing a movie they don’t like is magical, I find.
The film gets off to an exploitive start with a series of scenes of nude women being dragged off to a dingy room to be raped. –SF Chronicle [sheesh, talk about a lede -Ed]
One shot shows a blonde woman, naked, her wrists bound by a black cord; that cord suspends her from the curved ceiling of a stone corridor; the woman is revolving slowly as she hangs. The next image is the credit “In Association with Ratpac Entertainment.” –RogerEbert.com
With hair cropped down to his scalp and a white beard, grappling with a strange Eastern European accent that sounds like Ace Ventura Pet Detective enrolled in a crash course at Berlitz, Carrey plays Tadek –Observer
…a deeply troubled veteran Polish detective –Chicago Sun-Times
…a haunted-looking man of few words who moves with an economy of precision. –LA Times
Tardek’s obsession with silence and OCD approach to grooming, and the way he re-arranges the eggs and bacon on his breakfast plate, the daily trimming of his beard. He has a wife and child, but they barely figure in any of this. –Movie Nation
Tadek has a squeaky-clean reputation and -Chicago Sun-Times
…was once a candidate for chief of police, but he has been relegated to cold-case desk duty after he botched a high-profile investigation. -Chicago Sun-Times
Working in the non-digitized unsolved cases stacks of the one-time police state, -Movie Nation
…Tadek has been told to keep a low profile and make no waves — but he can’t let go of an unsolved case involving the murder of a well-known man named Daniel, -Chicago Sun-Times
… who was found trussed up, dumped in a river -Movie Nation
…pumped with Rohypnol and hogtied. –Slant Magazine
Daniel frequented this Euro-dungeon sex club -Movie Nation
…notorious for catering to the basest sexual desires of the rich and perverted. –Film Journal International
The rules: members who joined, by invitation only, could do anything they desired to the women, except murder them “because corpses did not look so good in makeup.” -Observer
Tadek is convinced Daniel’s killer is the famous author Kozlow -Chicago Sun-Times
…a writer who lived upstairs above The Cage and recorded intimate details of the atrocities that occurred there. -Observer
Kozlow is a caricature of a pretentious European artist, a hot-head who insults his own work, his readers, and fans before storming out of a Q&A—and to admiring applause. -Slant Magazine
He’s the sort of high-brow provocateur who, when asked in a TV interview whether the misogynistic violence in his novel is supposed to be symbolic, answers, “Maybe. Maybe not.” –AV Club
The Love Interest
Predictably and seemingly inevitably, since his wife (Agata Kulesza) is openly antagonistic, Tudek indulges in an indiscreet interlude with Kozlov’s sado-masochistic, drug-addicted girlfriend, Kasia (Charlotte Gainsbourg) –Susan Granger
…a single mother and recovering addict who has been physically and emotionally abused by men too numerous to count -Chicago Sun-Times
…who sleeps with everyone, including Tadek. -Observer
There are many more shots of Gainsbourg’s buttocks than the story would seem to require. -Slant Magazine
The Shock Value
The deeper he delves into the case, the more obsessed Tadek becomes, watching over and over again the tapes of what went on at The Cage -Observer
…a number of shock scenes in which women are brutalized and humiliated and demeaned… -Chicago Sun-Times
…lots of naked women hanging from the ceiling and engaging in orgies with each other while the customers applaud… -Observer
…scenes of naked women in bondage being debased by fully clothed males. -LA Times
We see Carrey’s O-face. –SF Weekly
Finally, his wife serves his fried eggs during images of women chained and crawling on all fours like animals and asks, “Do we have to listen to this over breakfast?” -Observer
Set in the grimly realized Polish city of Kraków, with people who look as chipper as “Whistler’s Mother” –New York Post
…filmed on ugly, sterile sets that can best be described as “Mussolini modern” -Observer
…prologue undermines payoff as scenes are shot in exceedingly deliberate takes. –New York Times
Obsession with extreme close-ups, characters constantly entering rooms and closing doors… -LA Times
…dismal lighting that makes it look like the whole thing was shot in the basement of a late-period Jean-Pierre Melville film… -AV Club
Check out the dusty bust of Lenin in this scene, the moldy odor of retarded progress, decay, hanging over every day life. -Movie Nation
A buildup, a long stare and a pained expression to linger over; everything here feels a third longer than necessary. -New York Times
The sky is always overcast and the characters are all dressed like they’re on their way to a funeral. -AV Club
A break comes from the novelist’s “last novel,” -Movie Nation
…never published but rendered into audio book form so that Tardek can listen to its vivid descriptions of sex club antics. -Movie Nation
He relishes both the book-on-tape readings of Kozlow’s dreary works — “A girl screaming was like shopping mall Muzak, the sound of buying and selling” –Consequence of Sound
…and damned if much of what turns up in the novel is straight out of the non-public portions of the case files of this one notorious, unsolved murder. -Movie Nation
“I think this book is your confession,” Tardek accuses.
“That’s what YOU say,” the author spits back.
“That’s what YOU say,” Tardek grins, pointing at the tape recorder with Kozlow’s own voice coming out of it.
“That’s what I WRITE.” -Movie Nation
In Too Deep
Kozlow works the system, charms the media and lies about being mistreated by Tadek while in custody. -Chicago Sun-Times
[Kozlow] says he will get satisfaction for the way his 30th Amendment rights have been violated. (Happily, the script does bother to get the constitution of Poland’s 30th Amendment right.) -RogerEbert.com [yes, that is an important consideration. -Ed.]
The bleakness extends to the cop’s home life, where he shares silent meals with his family (everyone keeping their head down while they chew), and his day job is mainly devoted to purposelessness to pass the time, remaining on the force in an administrative role. –BluRay.com
All the while, he immerses himself in his suspect’s work by listening to it on audiobook -AV Club
…chasing a cold case at the expense of his marriage to his exasperated wife, Marta. -Slant Magazine
In one scene, a friendly higher-up, Piotr (Vlad Ivanov), drops in on Tadek just to summarize the events of the last year or so. -Slant Magazine
Convinced Kozlow is going to get away with murder, Tadek goes off the rails, risking his marriage and committing a number of crimes in a desperate attempt to prove Kozlow’s guilt. -Chicago Sun-Times
Tadek gets a false confession from the wrong man, all of his witnesses disappear, his wife and daughter leave him, the identity of the killer is supposed to be shocking but has the impact of shredded wheat. The ending is as tragic and depressing as it is inexplicable. -Observer
Oh… uh… I guess that’s the ending. I have to imagine it felt less rushed in the theater. If you’re still curious, it’s currently available on iTunes and various other OnDemand platforms.