Essential Killing (15)

Starring: Vincent Gallo, Emmanuelle Seigner

From the veteran Polish director Jerzy Skolimowski comes this stark portrait of survival.

Vincent Gallo, bearded and wild-eyed, plays a Jihadis fighter who is captured in a Middle Eastern country (Afghanistan, possibly) and handed over to a US detention centre in snowbound mittel-Europe (Poland, possibly), from which he escapes after being tortured. Uttering not a single word, Gallo is reduced to the level of wounded animal, a creature who knows nothing but fight or flight. The camera sticks close to him, so close we can almost feel his terror, his shivering cold, his desperate hunger – and his absolute readiness to kill. It could almost have been made as a silent movie, which is a credit both to Gallo's performance and Skolimowski's pared-down storytelling.