Director Roman Polánski just appeared as a character (played by his Polish compatriot Rafał Zawierucha) in Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”. Now comes his own new film An Officer and a Spy in USA cinemas. In our review we reveal how the historical strip turned out.
In the open letter “J’accuse…!”, Émile Zola accuses the authorities.
The plot summary
The “Dreyfus Affair”, although it happened 125 years ago, is still the subject of heated discussions in our neighboring country France. In 1895, the young, Jewish officer Alfred Dreyfus (Louis Garrel) was publicly exposed by the French military for treason, demoted and sent to a lifelong prison on an island penal colony in the South Atlantic. Marie-Georges Picquart (Jean Dujardin), who a short time later will be promoted to head of the secret service department that convicted Dreyfus of alleged espionage, witnesses the humiliating procedure. He is certain: the accused was rightly convicted. But then, in his new position, he quickly realizes that a lot of sensitive secrets and internal classified information are still finding their way to Germany. Was Dreyfus perhaps innocent after all, as he so vehemently claimed in court? Although his superiors clearly order him to let the matter rest, Picquart doesn’t do exactly that. In doing so, he uncovers a huge network of corruption, incompetence and bigotry, which not only Dreyfus fell victim to, but which now also threatens to endanger him and his life…
An Officer and a Spy Movie Meaning of ending
First of all: The following text deals solely with “intrigue”. Anyone who learns more about the maker of “Chinatown” and “The God of Carnage” Roman Polánski can get their own idea of him as a person, his eventful life and what he did to the then 13-year-old Samantha Gailey in 1977 If you would like to, we recommend that you start by reading the German (better yet, because it is more extensive, the English language ) Wikipedia entry about him. This contains numerous links to further articles, documents and opinions. After that, everyone should/must decide for themselves whether they can support watching the film, which is very good, or any of the director’s other works.
Like his two previous works, “Venus in Fur” and “According to a True Story,” Polánski also shot the spectacular treatment of the “Dreyfus Affair” in his adopted homeland of France, with French actors, in French. At first glance this was not an artistic decision. Rather, it was based on the fact that the Oscar winner (“The Pianist”) was unable to find US investors for the venture, which was actually far too opulent and therefore costly for European standards. Ultimately, however, the circumstance turns out to be a blessing for the end result. The fact that the historical characters do not have any world-famous Hollywood faces , apart from Oscar winner Jean Dujardin (“The Artist”) , who acts fantastically because he is emotional and yet always controlled, contributes a lot to the authenticity. Thanks to brilliant equipment, costumes, sets and careful use of CGI, this is already enormous in this work, which is 132 minutes long but has no length at all.
Accused of libel: Zola (André Marcon) with his lawyer Fernand Labori (Melvil Poupaud)
Credibility plays a crucial role in telling the plot, which moves back and forth from a spy thriller to a whistleblower story to a courtroom drama. There are a lot of speaking parts that, due to the historical costumes, or more precisely the extremely similar uniforms, plus the beard fashion of the time (twirled mustaches were almost mandatory for men of a certain age and status) may cause confusion or confusion among some viewers could cause. Nevertheless, for Polánski and his co-author Robert Harris ( “The Ghostwriter” , “Enigma”) , on whose novel the script is based, it was out of the question to make the abbreviations and simplifications that are otherwise common in factual films. The duo stuck strictly to the historical events and did not, as is often the case in this genre, merge two or more characters into a single, fictionalized figure just to make things more streamlined. This meticulous approach gives the viewer the feeling as if they were witnessing live one of the most exciting and socially important events in the recent history of the Grande Nation.
With “Intrigue,” Polánski uses a historical example to show how shaky the rule of law, which we perhaps take for granted today more than ever, stands on. Especially when tried and tested laws can be interpreted or modified in any way by the forces in power. Something like what happened in this country during the Nazi era, but is also currently the case in many corners of the world. In addition to its technical advantages, the historical film, which presents current references and timeless qualities, rightly became a critic’s favorite in France and clearly reached the top of the cinema charts there in November 2019. In the summer of the same year, Polánski had already won the Grand Jury Prize at the renowned Venice Film Festival. The work is currently nominated for an astonishing twelve Césars (the Gallic equivalent of the Oscar) – including “Best Film”, “Best Director”, “Best Adapted Screenplay”, “Best Actor”, etc. The award ceremony will take place on February 28, 2020 .
Conclusion: Another masterpiece from the controversial directing genius Roman Polánski. Brilliantly written and impressively shot, the whole thing is crowned by excellent performances by the actors – especially Jean Dujardin.
“An Officer and a Spy” can be seen in selected USA cinemas from February 6th.