The Lightest Darkness (2017)

A private eye is hired to help solve a mystery. As he boards a train, truths about himself and his cabin mates start coming to the surface as they discuss a serial killer who hits once per month on the very same train.

Written and directed by Diana Galimzyanova, The Lightest Darkness is a film that feels like a film noir and a bit of a thriller with characters that get their time on screen to be developed, when it comes to the leads, and who each have different motives for being involved here. Some of the story elements are kept close to the vest to keep the mystery alive throughout and as they are revealed, they add to the story and make for an interesting film. The characters here are all their own entities and they all have their own stories and reasons going on. The characters are complex enough to be considered part of the story, but they also do not take away from the story and the mystery.

The cast bringing these characters to life is composed of Rashid Aitouganov as R.I. Musin, Kolya Neukoelln as Izolda Ivanoff, and Irina Gevorgyan as Arina in the leads and a group of talented supporting performers. The whole cast does good work with their parts, working with the material at hand and keeping with the style of the film throughout. The performances by the cast make the film work overall, possibly more than any other aspect visible to the viewers.

Where the film hits a snag is with the decision in regards to décor, costume, and accessories. There is a disconnect there which very well may have been something that was planned this way, but in some scenes, it’s flat out jarring. While the costumes and décors look great, they feel very much from a bygone era. The addition of technology like laptops, video games, etc make it odd with the rest of the look. While yes it is taking place in another place than the US or Europe which seem to be the prevalent locations for film noir, the location does not seem to fully justify the mix of eras seen in set-dressing, wardrobe, and technology. It’s not something that works great here and it takes away from the story and the mystery by having the viewer constantly wonder what time period this is supposed to be taking place in.

Adding to this is the decision to present the film in black and white, something that works great for the type of film it is, but not as great for the viewer trying to get their bearings. This does look great and the cinematography by Svetlana Makarova and Aleksey Petrushkevich works wonders here in how to make the film feel like a proper film noir. Their work is fantastic here and it adds a lot to the film and its story.

The Lightest Darkness is a decent film noir that does feel like something is off unfortunately and that may come from the dichotomy of the costumes and décors versus the technology. The story and the black and white aspect add to this and it all becomes sort of a mix that can be uneven at times. Overall, the story is decent, the film is good, and it’s something fans of film noir should be interested in.