Opening 21 Nov 2019
Writing credits: Gregory Bernstein, Sara Bernstein, Gavin Hood
Principal actors: Keira Knightly, Matt Smith, Ralph Fiennes, Matthew Goode, Adam Bakri
In 2003, with the Iraq War hanging in the balance, a GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters) routine transmission concerns a budding US–UK illegal spying operation. A British intelligence specialist receives the transmission routinely, and recognizes there are urgent concerns. Then, risking everything, she leaks the classified document. As the plot thickens and explosive repercussions occur worldwide, Katharine Gunn’s personal consequences are devastating. What confounds most though, is Katharine’s unwavering integrity, and moral courage. Director Gavin Hood’s craftsmanship is clearly evident, as are key production members: Megan Gill’s editing, Florian Hoffmeister’s cinematography, and Paul Hepker and Mark Kilian’s music. Archival footage is succinct, and well placed throughout this gripping dramatic narrative.
Keira Knightley excels depicting the strength, vulnerability, intelligence, and fortitude of Katharine Gun’s towering personality. Revolving around that key personality is Adam Bakri as husband Yasar, Ralph Fiennes as Ben Emmerson, her solicitor from the human rights firm Liberty, and reporters from The Observer that broke the story, Matt Smith/ Martin Bright, Matthew Goode/ Peter Beaumont and Rhys Ifans/Ed Vulliamy. Other key roles are played by: Conleth Hill/Roger Alton, Jack Farthing/Andy Dumfries, et al. and a sterling cast.
Based on “The Spy Who Tried to Stop a War: Katharine Gun and the Secret Plot to Sanction the Iraq Invasion” by Marcia Mitchell and Thomas Mitchell, the title tells it all. Fast-paced and tantalizing taut, both governments unthinkable, unbelievable culpability is penetrated and exposed during legal recourse and courtroom battles. Official Secrets is compelling, and especially timely in 2019’s autumnal politics. Whistleblower’s work is immeasurably significant and critical, considering the political conspiracies and firestorms running amuck around the world. (Marinell Haegelin)