Legendary Polish director Agnieszka Holland has come out with a thoughtful, elegant new film, “Mr. Jones,” addressing the 1932-33 Ukrainian Holodomor, or forced famine. I watch a lot of movies, and I’ve seen many addressing atrocity. “Mr. Jones” wrecked me. I fought back sobs, and also the urge to thrust my fist through the screen and destroy the film’s slimy villains. Compared to numerous other films addressing humanity’s dark side, “Mr. Jones” depicts virtually no onscreen gore. This is not atrocity porn. “Mr. Jones” is two hours long, and yet scenes of the actual famine take up only about half an hour – and it’s a quiet, monochromatic half hour. This film most frequently depicts well-dressed, well-fed people talking. With just that, Holland was able to move me more deeply than many a more graphic film. In 2019, innovative horror director Ari Aster released “Midsommer,” shot almost entirely in bright sunshine. Aster wanted to see if he could terrify people without hackneyed jump scares in old, dark houses. Holland has done what Aster was trying to do. “Mr. Jones” is a lowkey, polite, non-horror movie that utterly horrified me.
Don’t get me wrong – you should see “Mr. Jones.” The film offers you as pure a depiction of heroism as you are likely to get from a movie this year. When the film ended, my friend was more exhilarated than depressed. He said that “sublime talent” and a depiction of “complex events and the best and worst of humanity” impressed him so much that he planned to watch “Mr. Jones” again, and soon.
Source: “Mr. Jones” 2019 – Frontpagemag