FAREWELL is an elegant depiction of Cold War espionage based on true events that proved catalytic to the demise of the Soviet Union. Pierre Froment (Guillame Canet), a French businessman who is 'above suspicion' due to his amateur status, is compelled to deliver high level intelligence from reckless, disillusioned KGB veteran Sergei Grigoriev (Emir Kusturica) to Reagan's cabinet via François Mitterrand, thereby crippling Soviet intelligence. Whilst Froment and Grigoriev convincingly resemble weary bureaucrats, scenes in the White House lack credibility - perhaps an attempt at satire by Carion, they are nevertheless rendered redundant by the sombre refinement of the film. Cultural boundaries between East and West deliver brief comic reprieve, and signal the imminent disintegration of an already stagnant regime. Suffused with nostalgia, we observe Brezhnev-era Moscow cast in the lurid yellow light of street-lamps, or bleached white by lens flare, with an effortless attention to detail - Muscovites stand in endless queues on street corners as Soviet vehicles roam empty boulevards flanked by Socialist realist statues. Subterranean scenes add a noir aesthetic, reflecting the shades of deception throughout - in the words of Grigoriev; "I live in lies and solitude". Kusturica gives a shatteringly affecting performance, conveying Grigoriev's wistful patriotism and hope for his son's future with a rare eloquence. Carion creates real suspense and accommodates subtle plot twists, but there are no cheap thrills here- the film defies the brash conventions of its genre. Understated, fluid camera-work and dedicated performances deliver a film of classic style and depth. 5 out of 5 Cambridge Film Festival Daily
Drama / Thriller
Drama / Thriller
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The French intelligence service alerts the U.S. about a Soviet spy operation during the height of the Cold War, which sets off an unfortunate chain of events.
June 15, 2020