The story of British whistleblower Katharine Gun.
Official Secrets is the true story of British whistleblower Katherine Gun (Keira Knightly, “King Arthur (2004)”) and her battle to keep herself out of prison and her husband from deportation. With the help of human rights Lawyer Jack (Ralph Fiennes, “The Constant Gardener”), they build a case, and through much trial and tribulation a verdict is reached in this taught and tense political thriller. The subject of the story is a bit of a hairy one to traverse. It's quite adamantly opposed to the Bush administration and the Iraqi war, and at times this film is definitely heavy handed, but it's got it’s facts straight and is told in a very tasteful, professional way, and one who is even faintly familiar with the corruption going on then during this time should be reeled by this real life subject.
Katherine Gun worked for a sect in a private government space known as GHQS where she would monitor citizens conversations via their cellphones, computers, etc. To snuff out any terrorist activity, it's a very secret and very real job across the globe and one that sparks controversy, but it’s necessary and to avoid outside terrorist attacks. While there, she and her colleagues receive an email from a high official looking for any secret information to help the US legally go into the invasion of Iraq, with Britain as an ally. Katherine knows deep down this is not the right thing, risking the British people and Iraqi people, even being part of it and so she leaks the information to a friend, to which the story then takes full force, bringing in a new paper agency The Observer to break the story, and even though many mistakes are made and it’s hard for the Observer to stay on top of everything, with the help of advisors and informants, they stay afloat.
Of course as we all know, the war does start, and Katherine’s sect goes under federal investigation, interrogating Katherine and her co workers, until she finally comes to reveals that it was her who leaked the information and how she’s going to let the public know they’ve just started an illegal war. It's an intense true story about how one person risked her life and her husband's life for the greater humanity. It's a tough pill to swallow after the end credits scroll. While it's not always done as deftly and without a heavy hand as the filmmakers would want to think, it's still done with a precision that is clear what the message is; war is only necessary as an absolute, and should always try to be avoided. And Katherine knows this as the people watching know that what she did was the right thing, the government officials being the corrupt individuals they are want to keep this quiet, and only in the end is the exciting verdict reached. I won't spoil it for anyone, but this film is a breath of fresh air especially in our current political climate.
The performances are top notch, Keira Knightly single handedly holds this film on her shoulders; she's fierce, reserved and paralyzing in some scenes. Ralph Fiennes also gives his best, and delivers one of the best lines at the very end: a solid middle finger to the prosecutor. “Official Secrets” is a strong ensemble cast for an Oscar baity movie that ends up hitting most of it's marks. There are a couple unnecessary scenes that really try to hammer the idea of how corrupt the British government was, such as forcing Katherine's husband to board a plane for deportation, before Katherine narrowly saves him. It's feels terribly forced and just not really needed for this story (not to mention Knightly runs circles around the guy in terms of acting), but it has enough power and force to overcome its few shortcomings, making for an eye opening investigation of corrupt powers.
Overall Official Secrets is a very well done and very important political thriller, it won the best Foreign Film Award at the Traverse City Film Festival that I attended, so that goes to prove that it has a lasting effect, and I agree. So if you're willing to believe in what the story is telling you, it has great performances and twists and turns throughout, it'll have you cheering for the protagonists and utterly booing the antagonists, if you're in the mood for a good solid political thriller I recommend Official Secrets.
I give Official Secrets 4 stars out of 5.
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