“A Dark, Dark Man” is set in a part of Kazakhstan where few people seem to live, but corruption is everywhere.
When this Police Proceedings, directed by Adilkhan Yerzhanov (“Yellow Cat”), premiered in 2019, it was a regular feature film. The distributor has cut it into three episodes for streaming purposes. That’s a shame, because the pace and visual style – much of the action unfolds in a long shot – are clearly designed for big-screen immersion.
For the first third, “A Dark, Dark Man” delivers grim revelations at breathtaking speed. Poukuar (Teoman Khos), a gullible local, is forced by a mysterious man to provide evidence that will be used to scam him for the rape and murder of an orphaned boy. (Later, we learn that the boy is the fourth victim.) Bekzat (Daniyar Alshinov), the detective’s anti-hero, arrives at the scene to investigate what now looks like an open and closed case.
In this neighborhood, suspects tend to be found dead before the trial. However, Bekzat cannot easily fake Poukuar’s suicide after a journalist, Ariana (Dinara Baktybayeva), shows up to accompany Bekzat in the investigation. She might even push him to seriously pursue the lurking serial killer.
The mystery aspect is treated obliquely. The film is more of a mood piece, and much of its pitch-black humor comes from the contrast between the barren landscape and the sheer number of horrors it contains. (When Bekzat and Ariana arrive in a village, an old woman greets him: “You killed my son. Two years ago. During the interrogation.”) Only the closing moments seem less nervous.
A dark, dark man
Not judged. In Kazakh and Russian, with subtitles. Running time: 2 hours 10 minutes. Look at MHz Choice.