Review: Nakam

Directed by Andreas Kessler and written by Fabien Virayie, twelve year old violin player Mitka is supposed to execute an attack on several SS officers in the name of a Ukrainian partisan movement. But his attempt will also put his only friend in life danger. Starring: Anton Krymskiy, Yevgeni Sitokhin, Peter Miklusz, Rostyslav Bome and Irina Usova.

Portraying the sheer inhumanity and evil committed during the Second World War will always be vital to keep an important reminder of a history we hope never to repeat. Even more so to tell these vital stories in a way that’s accessible to a younger audience, which is what Nakam achieves. It instils the fear, anger, danger and constantly lingering threat without any need of blood or violence. It moves with a slow, pensive pacing, holding a tight tension which grows wonderfully as time goes on. Fabien Virayie’s writing does well to capture the devastation and loss, to explore the cause and the fight, the lengths they have been pushed to, to try and recapture their freedom. His style is emotional and compelling, bringing a degree of harshness while never straying into gritty or dark territory.

The cinematography from Leonard Caspari does a fantastic job of capturing the era while keeping a modern, sharp clarity. There’s an aged feel to the way Andreas Kessler approaches this story, quickly giving it that old-fashioned edge to make the period even more convincing. There’s a simplicity to it, focusing on the drama but then it also leans into the growing intensity and suspense. All of which is improved further with a superb score from Ege Ateslioglu, playing things with a subtle note and matching the compelling energy.

Anton Krymskiy perfectly captures Mitka’s broken youth, disillusioned and forced to grow too fast in a harsh world. Playing the violin gives a great balance between seeing the young man he could be and who he has to be in that moment. He’s filled with tense emotion, bubbling under the surface. It’s a terrifically layered and impressive performance, which is paired extremely well with Yevgeni Sitokhin’s Yegor. Sitokhin brings out the more innocent side to Mitka, trying to shift his focus to better things with a selfless generosity and kindness. While Peter Miklusz taps into all of the usual the detestable qualities of Nazi soldiers, really hitting those notes of cold, calculated and sadistic.

Nakam is a compelling and poignant story captured with a beautifully detailed, pensive aesthetic. It’s led by a brilliant performance from the talented up and coming actor Anton Krymskiy, one to keep an eye on in the future. There’s always a lot of ground already covered with stories about WWII but while it is slightly familiar, it still feels new and is a story that’s incredibly worth telling.

Verdict: ✯✯✯✯ | 8/10

Shortlisted at the Academy Awards 2023 for ‘Best Live Action Short’

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