Opening 1 Aug 2013
A complex story — international espionage involving a Russian bank in Monaco, and French, Russians and Americans — is further complicated in that the protagonists speak two or more languages, with (German) subtitles. Top FSB (Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation) agent Moïse (Jean Dujardin, Oscar© The Artist) leads a hi-level operation against the powerfully wealthy Ivan Rostovsky (Tim Roth). With Sandra (Émilie Dequenne) as the go-between, Moïse recruits an American financial whiz-trader working at the bank. Which Alice (Cécile De France) first has to clear with her handler in Langley, Virginia, USA. Meeting at the bank, Ivan proposes they work together, albeit Alice will be under the sharp scrutiny of Khorzov (Aleksey Gorbunov), chief of his security team. As the plot spirals, Moïse and Alice’s liaison becomes personal, her handling is passed to the FSB, Ivan hastily retreats to Moscow, and a discreet gathering is organized whereby the new CIA chief explains what Möbius is to a major player.
Artfully shot (Pierre Novion, cinematographer) and finely edited (Pascale Fenouillet), it is Eric Rochant’s screenplay that is overly ambitious, and ponderous. His cast delivers good performances; De France’s accent mars her credibility of being an American, and although Roth’s accent is explained, he does not personify a ruthless tyrant. Baffling is director Rochant’s multi-language choice, i.e., reliance on multi-language subtitles — detracting from onscreen action/attention — wherever the film is shown, and his stereotypical depiction of certain Russian and American characters. Jonathan Morali’s original music is heavy-handed and actually comical when Russians are coming (on-screen). Wait for Die Möbius-Affäre to come out on DVD. (Marinell Haegelin)