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Farewell

Friday, March 12

Part of “Rendez-Vous with French Cinema 2010.” Director Christian Carion in person.

“In the early 1980s, a high-ranking KGB officer in Moscow decided to let the West know just how thorough Soviet infiltration was, a bold gambit which hastened the collapse of the USSR. Christian Carion’s dramatisation of the events surrounding the man French intelligence codenamed ‘Farewell’ is a harrowing, richly human and well-acted espionage tale, anchored by a complex performance from Emir Kusturica…

“Hitting the same emotional marks as German Oscar hit The Lives of Others, Farewell additionally benefits from the true underpinnings of this incredible story. Viewers old enough to recall the political atmosphere of the early 1980s will be impressed – the spy stakes here seem real.

“With opening documentary footage providing a crash course in Cold War rivalries, Farewell starts out in Moscow’s French compound in the spring of 1981, where Pierre Froment (Canet), an engineer for a French electronics firm, lives with his wife Jessica (Alexandra Maria Lara). After doing his boss a favour, Pierre ends up as an unlikely go-between when Serguei Grigoriev (Kusturica) feeds him intelligence documents he claims are hot stuff.

“Pierre thinks the hulking Russian who insists on speaking French has delusions of grandeur, but the head of the French secret service (Arestrup) reveals that Grigoriev is in fact a KGB colonel and an extraordinary, almost certainly reliable, source, oddly motivated by love for his own country.

“Freshly elected French president François Mitterand (a wry Philippe Magnan) decides to share the damning evidence with Ronald Reagan (Ward), who initially responds that “this Farewell business is just hokey” but changes his mind when it reveals the existence of KGB moles in the CIA, the Pentagon, everywhere. And what the West does with this information is riveting.” – Lisa Nesselson, Screen International

  • Country France
  • Language French
  • Rating NR
  • Year 2009
  • Running Time 113 minutes
  • Director Christian Carion