Keeping Your Enemy Close
It is the winter of 1946 and the female guards at a vacant Leningrad prisoner of war camp suddenly find themselves with 51 German prisoners of war dumped on them. But whilst most of the female guards want to treat these prisoners with the same disrespect and cruelty that they treated their dead loved ones some, including Natalia (Vera Farmiga), are more sympathetic to them. Someone who isn't sympathetic is Commander Pavlov (John Malkovich) who not only likes to toy with the female guards but wants Natalia to weed out the members of the SS who are amongst the German prisoners. It leads to emotional conflict for some of the woman, especially Natalia as she becomes close to a prisoner despite having been caring for her injured husband at the camp the whole time.
On paper "In Tranzit" sounds like it should be a good movie with an unusual storyline which also happens to be based on a true story. You can read in to it that there would be plenty of conflict as we have the vindictive Pavlov who abuses his position of power over women, we have the women who hate the Germans for murdering their families and loved ones, but we also have the emotional conflict which comes from compassion. Just those things alone would be enough to make for a nice boiling pot of a movie where there is plenty of drama as well as tension and then on top of that there is also an added layer of mystery surrounding some of the characters which I won't go in to because that is a bit of a bonus surprise.
But the annoying thing is that as a finished product "In Tranzit" isn't the movie I was hoping for as it is painfully slow with far too many scenes which end up almost grinding to a halt. It ends up being off putting as you know that you are never far away from another slow scene or in some cases a scenes which whilst beautifully shot is simply filler, contributing to this movie going on longer than it needed to be. I can understand what director Tom Roberts was hoping to achieve with a focus on the characters emotional conflict and evilness but it doesn't work.
The one thing which "In Tranzit" has going for it is the casting with John Malkovich in particular delivering the evilness of his character quite brilliantly from cruelty towards everyone be it the prisoners or a young female cook to his lecherous movements around Natalia. And on the subject of which you have Vera Farmiga delivering that sense of a woman who behind the coldness has compassion yet also that aspect of a woman doing what she needs to survive.
What this all boils down to is that the true storyline behind "In Tranzit" and the ideas in this movie could have made for a very good movie. But what you have here is sadly a movie which is undone by the slowness which at times feels like it is causing the movie to grind to a halt.