Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Debt Film Review

I was intrigued to see that "The Debt" featured Oscar winner Helen Mirren (The Queen), Sam Worthington (Avatar), Tom Wilkinson (John Adams), Ciaran Hinds. (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2) and fresh face Jessica Chastain. (The Help) This was a diverse and talented cast.

And that talented cast lived up to their reputations in The Debt. The movie is based on an Israeli film Ha-Hov. (2007) The story is about three Mossad agents (Israeli intelligence), Rachel Singer (Jessica Chastain), Stephen Gold (Marton Csokas) and David Peretz. (Sam Worthington) In 1966, their mission was to travel to East Berlin and bring back to Israel, Nazi war criminal Dieter Vogel (Jesper Christensen) who's hiding in plain sight as a gynecologist named Bernhardt. The film also traces the three to 1997. Rachel is now played by Helen Mirren, Stephen by Tom Wilkinson and David by Ciaran Hinds. Rachel's daughter (Romi Aboulafia) has written a book about them. The three are considered heroes. Rachel has a very noticeable scar on her right cheek from the mission. But the three also have a secret which haunts them.

Director John Madden has made a film which is smart and thrilling. One can also thank the screenwriters Matthew Vaughn, Jane Goldman and Peter Straughan. The look of the film during the 1966 mission feels like East Berlin. There's tension everywhere. It's formed from dialogue by Vogel who unknowingly treats Rachel, to the simple sound of dripping water, to the mysterious men accompanying the modern David, to David's guilt written face.

And as I have said before, the performances in this film were superb. Jessica Chastain carries the movie as the young Rachel. I found her European accents to be realistic. She could be the next Meryl Streep. Marton Csokas gives his Stephen a bear like personality. And Sam Worthington's David is a man who seeks justice over revenge. It's his "do the right thing" persona which will haunt him for the next thirty years. Tom Wilkinson's Stephen is a man who has grown practical. Ciaran Hinds' David is wracked with guilt. Whereas Helen Mirren's Rachel is a woman living with a lie and struggling to keep it a secret for the sake of her daughter.

The Debt is an exciting thriller. It also happens to be a morality play. It's one of best films of the year. The grade is A.

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