Wednesday 7 June 2023

Movie Review: Official Secrets (2019)

Genre: Biographical Drama
Director: Gavin Hood
Starring: Keira Knightley, Matt Smith, Ralph Fiennes, Matthew Goode, Rhys Ifans
Running Time: 112 minutes

Synopsis: In 2003, Katharine Gunn (Keira Knightley) is an analyst at Britain's communications monitoring agency GCHQ. She notices correspondence indicating the US and UK are pressuring smaller UN Security Council members to support the case for invading Iraq. In an attempt to stop the war, Katharine decides to leak the embarrassing email, and eventually The Observer newspaper publishes the story. The war nevertheless goes ahead, and Katharine has to face the consequences of violating the Official Secrets act.

What Works Well: Based on actual events, director and co-writer Gavin Hood adapts the book by Marcia and Thomas Mitchell into an engaging behind-the-scenes look at a whistleblower caught in the business of dirty politics. Keira Knightley occupies the drama's centre to represent the courage of strongly-held principles, while the committed supporting cast is filled with enough talent to overcome the limited character depth. The drama capably expands into the world of newspaper dilemmas, and eventually to the clever strategic arguments crafted by Katharine's legal team in preparation for her defence.

What Does Not Work As Well: The villains of the piece are politicians who only appear as themselves on television, leaving the narrative floundering in search of counterpoints. What remains is a small and ultimately inconsequential story, a lightweight companion piece to the more robust Fair Game (2010). While Katherine Gunn's intentions were honourable, the incident is at best a historical footnote, and the film struggles to translate one woman's outrage and act of defiance into geopolitical consequence.

Conclusion: Sombre and proficient but also slight.

All Ace Black Movie Blog reviews are here.

No comments:

Post a Comment

We welcome reader comments about this post.