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Official Secrets

Official Secrets

Großbritannien/USA 2019 - with Keira Knightley, Matt Smith, Matthew Goode, Ralph Fiennes ...

The Frankfurt-Tipp rating:

Movie info

Original title:Official Secrets
Direction:Gavin Hood
Cinema release:21.11.2019
Production country:Großbritannien/USA 2019
Running time:Approx. 112 min.
Rated:Age 6+

Katharine Gun (Keira Knightley) works as a translator for the British intelligence agency GCHQ. There, in 2003, she receives a top-secret memo in which the NSA urges British intelligence to spy on member states of the UN Security Council in order to blackmail them into approving the UN resolution for war in Iraq. Katharine is sworn to absolute secrecy, but feels morally compelled to leak the document. When this explosive information is published in the Observer by journalist Martin Bright (Matt Smith), a feverish search is immediately launched for the whistleblower. Katharine remains steadfastly silent until she witnesses her colleagues coming under increasing pressure. She confesses, is then arrested and charged with violating the Official Secrets Act. The first consequence: her Kurdish husband Yasar (Adam Bakri) is to be deported immediately. The situation seems hopeless, but there is one last glimmer of hope when she is able to enlist human rights lawyer Ben Emmerson (Ralph Fiennes) to defend her. But time is running out for Katharine.

Official Secrets tells the true story of whistleblower Katharine Gun - a story that remains extremely relevant 16 years on. The film poses two central questions: how far should intelligence agencies be allowed to go in pursuit of their goals - even if it's under the guise of protecting their own people? And when should one put one's sense of moral duty above the law? To automatically label whistleblowers as heroes is probably just as one-sided as to label them criminals from the outset. But even if one should take a nuanced view of the issue as a whole, one has to be grateful that there are people like Gun who are willing to give up their lives, their professional careers, in order to bring injustices and lies to the public.

Director Gavin Hood tells the story in the best political-thriller manner. Admittedly, whether it's Gun's struggle with her own conscience or the heated discussions in the Observer's newsroom, you definitely feel like you're on very familiar ground. And also the preparation of the team around Ben Emmerson for the trial is realized rather conventionally. But the story has such an inherent tension and topicality that this doesn't really stand out in a negative way. The film simply grips and stimulates thought and discussion long after the credits have rolled. If something like this is achieved, then the production is welcome to be conventional.

Actrically, Official Secrets offers good to very good performances. Lead actress Keira Knightley strives to make her performance believable and as intense as possible. Unfortunately, her facial expressions change only marginally throughout the film. This might fit the role, but especially compared to the acting of some of the supporting actors it seems a bit one-dimensional. But even this point of criticism weighs only slightly in the end, because despite its flaws Official Secrets is a strong and also important movie. And for that, there is clearly a: Absolutely worth seeing!

An article by Frankfurt-Tipp


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Cinema trailer for the movie "Official Secrets (Großbritannien/USA 2019)"
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