The film stars Robert Więckiewicz, Benno Fürmann, Agnieszka Grochowska, Maria Schrader, Herbert Knaup, and Kinga Preis. With a magnificent performance and deliciously ripe turn from the cast, especially from Więckiewicz, Holland has unearthed a too-little-known story and presents it beautifully.
In a time when nationalism and hatred fuel political campaigns around the world, the film remains relevant. Perhaps never before (or since) in film history has circumcision played such a pivotal role in a movie's plotline. Yet that's the almost absurdist thread running throughout the film. While in every other Holocaust film the Nazis are depicted as masterful at sniffing out and executing Jews, Socha dodges bullet after bullet with relative ease and immense good fortune. A fresh, incredible story in the way that only true stories can be, it is based on the Marshall's book about Socha's heroics, who survived the War ordeal through a chain of extraordinary events. The film uses the historical background only as a backdrop to the fears and isolation Socha must undergo without dwelling on the evils of the Holocaust. Flawed yet fundamentally worthy, the film peers into the past to tell a fact-based story that remains troublingly relevant today. Though the film doesn't all hang together, Holland finds subtly horrific ways to reveal the truth about the holocaust. Produced on a grand scale, the film sometimes feels over-worthy, making sure the audience understands the historical importance. And the colour-drained aesthetic leaves the story a bit dry and choppy. But it's still powerful. The film deserves plaudits for taking a true story about a sewer worker in one of the most hostile environments on earth, without falling victim to the many clichés of depicting the behind the scenes lives of ordinary citizens onscreen. It is a harsh, masterful film about being wary of the lies being fed to you by your media and your government. Presented in the inescapable grey-brown color grading of such period confections, it is a worthwhile, at times exciting, and ultimately informative effort if perhaps not a great one. Holland makes it clear with this pessimistic, exciting and lucid clash of ideas and stories, of ghosts on one side and the other: there is no escape, both are the same and you do not see a future.