Official Secrets (2019)

Gavin Hood directs Keira Knightley, Matt Smith and Ralph Fiennes in this true story of a GCHQ interpreter who leaks an email that proved the UK and US were attempting to strongarm U.N. members by blackmail to ratify the last Iraq war.

Katherine Gun is an unwritten hero of modern history. Taking a uniquely principled stance that risked all her freedoms and comforts when most of us merely went on a march, maybe signed an e-petition and definitely didn’t stop using oil. We all knew what that war was about. None of us risked our lifestyle and boycotted the black gold though, did we? The first hour is your standard whistleblower ruins their life in favour of the truth biopic. It is presented cleanly, the acting is solid and doesn’t stink of Oscar grandstanding. But in the final stretch you find your stomach lurching as “they” try to break Gun with all the legal, bureaucratic means at their disposal. “They” are presented quite matter of factly as everyone in power – they all know each other, their connectedness and civility is quietly disgusting. The race to destroy her grips, the few that try and find a way to shield her shine in their quiet admirability. You leave the uncertain closing moments genuinely shaken. What Katherine Gun did should be taught in schools. What she went through should be taught in schools. This calm, measured film presents it with an expert unfussiness. Tight, unsensational filmmaking reminiscent of Ken Loach’s equally superb Hidden Agenda.

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