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A scene from Dead Europe.

2 out of 4 stars

Dead Europe
Directed by
Tony Krawitz
English, Greek, French and Hungarian, with English subtitles

Dead Europe is as nuanced a quasi-political savaging as its title suggests. Director Tony Krawitz adapts a stygian Christos Tsiolkas novel to his own ends, positioning the socioeconomic decay of all Europe as penance for its sins against Jews. The knotty plot follows Isaac (Ewen Leslie), a Greek-Australian gay art photographer tracing family secrets through the fatherland. Dad's ashes in one hand, camera in the other, Isaac finds himself haunted by a young Jewish boy (raw talent Kodi Smit-McPhee) and horrified when he finds out why. But by then, a pile-on of drugs, sex, magic, corruption and corpse-heavy symbolism have obscured the film's revelatory potential. Like Everything is Illuminated without any light, this historical psychodrama serves best as a Grimm-style cautionary tale for backpacking kids.

Sept. 15, 6 p.m., Scotiabank.

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