Child 44


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Child 44
"The ingredients are here, jumbled up, too confusing to fit the restrictions of a single screenplay"

Is this a study of life in the USSR, an unhappy marriage going dark, or the sickening intrigue of a child killer? It may be all of these things, or none.

It's a mess.

Copy picture

Theo (Tom Hardy), orphaned after Stalin's policy of mass starvation in the Ukraine, becomes a war hero for planting a Russian flag above a blasted building and being photographed doing it. Later he is rewarded with a position in the secret service, giving him immunity from post war paranoia, brought on by the corruption of power and fear of arrest in a world of neighbourhood informants.

This might have been enough, a damaged man's journey to salvation, or despair, in a country of tortured souls. But it's not about him, not entirely, because if it was would you care?

Theo comes across as someone too uncertain to make a stand, or make the most of his good fortune, or make his wife (Noomi Rapace) smile.

She is a teacher.

"Are you a spy?" he asks.


Later she tells him: "I married out of fear of what might happen if I said no. What choice did I have?"

They talk of truth, what it means, why it matters, the reality of murder, the frailty of emotion.

"Do you know what people get when they demand truth?" she asks. "They get terror."

And so his work, his obsession with a serial killer, blindsides him from the politics of survival.

The ingredients are here, jumbled up, too confusing to fit the restrictions of a single screenplay.

As an actor Hardy has a bruised presence, influenced by another age, beyond Brando. Gary Oldman, a late arrival on the scene, has a role anyone could have filled. He is worth so much more.

Rapace, on the other hand, shines

Reviewed on: 17 Apr 2015
Share this with others on...
A disgraced member of the military police investigates child murders from the Stalin era.
Amazon link

Director: Daniel Espinosa

Writer: Richard Price, based on the novel by Tom Rob Smith

Starring: Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, Gary Oldman, Joel Kinnaman, Fares Fares, Jason Clarke, Paddy Considine, Vincent Cassel, Tara Fitzgerald, Charles Dance

Year: 2015

Runtime: 137 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US, UK, Czech Republic, Romania


Search database: