(director: Norman Jewison; screenwriters: Ronald Harwood/based on a novel by Brian Moore; cinematographer: Kevin Jewison; editors: Andrew Eisen/Stephen E. Rivkin; music: Normand Corbeil; cast: Tilda Swinton (Annemarie Livi), Michael Caine (Pierre Brossard), John Boswell (Father Leo), Alan Bates (Armand Bertier), Jeremy Northam (Colonel Roux), Charlotte Rampling (Nicolle), Ciaran Hinds (Pochon), John Neville (Old Man), Frank Finlay (Commissaire Vionnet); Runtime: 120; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Robert Lantos/Norman Jewison; Sony Pictures Classics; 2003)
“Jewison is not sure if he wants to make a chase or message film.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Norman Jewison (“In The Heat of the Night”/”A Soldier’s Story”) directs this tedious crime-investigation drama. It’s based on the 1997 novel by Brian Moore, and is written by Ronald Harwood (“The Pianist”). Jewison is not sure if he wants to make a chase or message film, thereby it turns out to be a film that can’t make the statement it promises. It’s a mysterious political drama set in modern-day France. It has a Paris magistrate Livi (Tilda Swinton) and an army colonel, Roux (Jeremy Northam), pursue the cunning ageing French collaborator Pierre Brossard (Michael Caine), who in 1944 as a young officer in the Vichy Government, ordered the execution of seven Jews in a small town that was carried out by the Nazis. The collaborator, who never was put on trial, eludes them while on the lam from the end of the war until the present with help from his connected right-wing political friends on the police and in the church. Things change when a revenge seeking secret anti-Nazi movement goes after the war criminals, including Brossard. The magistrate and colonel try to capture Brossard before the underground group could illegally carry out justice (after killing him pin ‘a statement’ on him) or assassins who want him out of the way so he doesn’t rat out those in high places in the Cathoilic Church who helped him. The hammy performance by Caine as an unsympathetic character, trying to be French without speaking the language or seeming to be French, was not one of his better moments. To make matter worse, Jewison draws no suspense out of a suspense film with his clumsy directing.
REVIEWED ON 5/1/2019 GRADE: C+ https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/