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The Statement

Norman Jewison

The Statement
Directed by Norman Jewison and based on a novel by the late, great Canadian author Brian Moore, The Statement is a thriller with a high pedigree and even higher expectations. The story trails a pardoned Vichy collaborator who, in the months leading up to the end of WWII, massacred several Jewish resistance fighters sheltered in a French village. Protected for five decades by a secret network of Roman Catholic sympathisers and hunted by both a rogue revenge group and a passionate judge (Tilda Swinton) bent on prosecuting him, he must keep one step ahead of them all. But it is the audience, in the end, who must do most of the catching up. Hot off of his win for The Pianist, screenwriter Ronald Harwood's portrait of the Church as a lawless, wealthy cabal of men secreting war criminals from one place to the other is hardly original, but as far as yarns go, it is fairly entertaining. Particularly absorbing are the inner-dialogues that drive Michael Caine's main character from one safe house to the next — a rat slowly drawn into a trap of his own making. Caine's performance is, yet again, outstanding. His Brossard is a whinging, self-absorbed crook who manages through the course of the picture to piss off and embarrass just about every character he comes into contact with, his wife (Charlotte Rampling) included. Yet, despite his self-pitying, cringing and shaky ethics, we are strangely fascinated by him and care enough to see him through to the pursuit's end. "Everybody wants to like Michael Caine," Jewison points out so adroitly in an interview included with the package, and damn it if he isn't bang on. His decision, though, to cast British actors in the leading roles, while lending uniformity, mire the film in cartoon-ish hoity-toityness and undermine the audience's intelligence. A go through with the director's commentary will lead to some fruitful observations on the state of "the business" from a guy who's seen a thing or two and whose observations are, again, bang on. Plus: deleted scenes, "making of" featurette, more. (Universal)
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