(L'affaire Farewell)

1980's-set French spy thriller, from the director of Joyeux Noël, based on real events.... More

A KGB spy (Emir Kusturica), disenchanted with what the Communist ideal has become under Brezhnev, decides to feed Soviet secrets to the government of French President François Mitterrand (Philippe Magnan). He uses a naive French engineer, with no experience of espionage, as his unlikely intermediary. By avoiding traditional espionage methods – which would be easily detected by the KGB – and not asking for any financial compensation – too capitalist for his taste – the Russian spy smuggles out information that would cause ructions that sounded the death bell of the Soviet Union. Codenamed 'Farewell' by the French Secret Service, he hoped his defection might bring a new world for all Russians, but especially his son.

Allegedly, the Russian Culture Minister blocked most big-name Russian actors to play a role in the movie. He also blocked it from filming in Moscow. Director Christian Carion pretended he was shooting a Coca-Cola advertisement for the few images of the city he collected.Hide

Flicks Review

Back in a simpler, gentler time, America was more concerned with communists than terrorists. This film examines a chapter towards the end of that Cold War conflict, where a turncoat Russian spy and a French engineer combine to put a massive dent in Soviet Union aspirations. Stateside patriots probably won’t agree with this take on history, but even they would have to admit that Farewell is a fine espionage thriller.

In the lead roles are two men better known for their work behind the camera than in front of it. Despite this, European auteurs Emir Kusturica and Philippe Magnan deliver solid turns, particularly in conveying the hardship of a life lived in a web of lies. Even Willem Dafoe can’t outshine them in his great cameo as a CIA bigwig.

Director Christian Carion clearly understands how thrillers work as he slowly escalates the tension while adding interesting visual touches that don’t distract from the complex story. He builds effectively to an ending in which both men achieve their goals at great cost, with a twist that alters everything that has come before.

The only weaknesses are the scenes featuring historical figures such as Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, which are ham-fisted in execution compared to the slick work elsewhere. Still, for a thriller that is based upon characters rather than all-out action, it’s hard to think of many better in recent memory.

The Peoples' Reviews

Average ratings from 2 ratings, 2 reviews
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BY Weds_Loafers superstar

This movie is based on the true story of a Russian KGB Colonel who believes that the world will be improved if the Communist system is taken down. He befriends a young French engineer and, through him, feeds the West some of the best secrets of the 1980s. Well-filmed and acted, especially in relation to its portrayal of the 1980s. An intense movie that tells a gripping story.

BY Brian1 superstar

Its all been said, a compelling and entertaining beauty.

The Press Reviews

  • That's another thing about Carion's direction: He has an eye for unusual, atmospheric touches — the kinds of striking little things you notice in the world and think: “Somebody should put that in a movie” — like the way light filters through trees (from the sun or a helicopter spotlight), a face illuminated for a split second in the back seat of a parked car at night, or a kite spotted by a man who's driving with his head out the side window. Full Review

  • The extraordinarily little-known true story of how the Cold War-era Russian spy network was brought down from the inside is so startlingly told here that it's breath-taking. Not for how dramatic it is, but for how casually it is portrayed. Full Review

  • A refreshing reminder in the age of the Bourne movies that spies are real people leading everyday lives... Full Review

  • There is much that is wonderful about this riveting political thriller set at the end of the Cold War, so it is worth overlooking some of the confusing storytelling... Full Review