Sundance: Keira Knightley has "Official Secrets"
Tuesday, January 29, 2019 at 6:09PM
Abe Fried-Tanzer in Gavin Hood, Keira Knightley, Matt Smith, Matthew Goode, Official Secrets, Ralph Fiennes, Rhys Ifans, Sundance, film festivals, politics

Abe Fried-Tanzer reporting from Sundance

As if there wasn’t enough going on in today’s American and international politics, events that happened a decade and a half ago seem to be coming into focus again. The start of the Iraq war and its implications were covered in the Best Picture nominee Vice and are the subject of two new films premiering at SundanceMurtada just shared his thoughts on The Report, which focuses on the investigation into torture practices used by the United States. Official Secrets takes place across the pond, following the fallout of one British intelligence translator’s decision to leak an NSA memo detailing plans to blackmail United Nations security council members into voting to go to war in Iraq...

Keira Knightley stars as Katherine Gun, the real-life government employee who was so disturbed by the receipt of this document that she felt compelled to share it with an anti-war colleague, who passed it along to the press. Matt Smith shifts from being an antagonist to the Queen on The Crown to challenging the entire British government as the Observer journalist who pressed to certify the memo’s legitimacy. In an age of instant journalism and alternative facts, it’s refreshing to see a film that, like Spotlight, focuses on the burden of proof required to truly vet a story with such a forceful organization determined to see it suppressed.

Keira Knightley at Sundance last year promoting Collette. She didn't show this year.Director Gavin Hood, whose previous film, Eye in the Sky, also addressed wartime ethics, was passionate in defending the need for journalists to dig into the facts, something that rarely happens these days, and stressed the difficult position in which whistleblowers are often placed. He also noted that this film was not easy to make because of the many people involved who are very much alive.

Knightley and Smith lead a talented cast that includes Rhys Ifans as an angry liberal reporter, Matthew Goode as a seasoned and cautious journalist, and Ralph Fiennes in an unusually noble yet still intimidating role as the human rights lawyer who defends Katherine (Hood insists that the real Ben Emmerson is scarier than Fiennes). Though Knightley and Fiennes don’t bear a strong resemblance to the people they portray, they do capture the spirit of the characters and this story in this above-average legal-political thriller.

Other Sundance 2019 Reviews from Abe

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