1945 ★★★½

Can you stroll, with all the swagger and mystique of a gunslinger, through a town filled with terrible secrets ... and lay waste to it using plenty of ammunition while not firing a single shot or even brandishing a weapon? Damn right, you can. Staged like a Western with the soul of a thriller and the sting of historical malfeasance, "1945" is a gripping little novella with immaculately pressed black-and-white filmmaking and a healthy smidgen of situational dread from the dogmatic denial of dastardly deeds. While it could use a bit more momentum in the first act, the fire-and-brimstone finale — with a smoke plume as stunningly photographed as it is symbolically poignant — crystallizes the cumulative power in a uniquely conceived World War II drama.