Film Review: Official Secrets

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Whistle blowing movies are now more relevant than ever. Although, it can be difficult to tackle the subject. However, Gavin Hood does a remarkable job in not just capturing the subject well but leaving a lasting impact on the audience as well. British docudrama Official Secrets takes the audience back to 2003 in the days leading up to the Iraq war. 

Katherine Gun (Kiera Knightly) works for the British security services as a GCHQ translator in Cheltenham. She is outraged upon receiving an email from the US National Security Agency requiring Gun and her colleagues to dig up dirt on the smaller states of the United Nations so that the US can black mail them into voting in favour of an invasion of Iraq. Gun strongly opposed to the war, voices her concerns to a colleague who does not pay much heed to the matter. As a result, she takes it upon herself to prevent a war in Iraq at all costs. 

She passes the memo to an anti war friend with journalistic contacts. Days after the memo is published onto the front page of the Observer by Martin Bright (Matt Smith) changing the press and public opinion drastically against the war.

Although, the invasion of Iraq still went ahead. Gun, however, played an important role in turning the tide of the public and press opinion. She confessed to leaking the memo and was prosecuted under the official secrets act. 

Visually, the film comes off as relatable to the audience as it is not an extravagant display of events. But a realistic portrayal of day to day political frustrations. 

Both the lead performances are outstanding. Knightley does a commendable job portraying Gun as an ordinary citizen embittered by politicians and their lies. While Smith does a fine job representing an exuberant journalist. 

Official Secrets plays a crucial role in today’s day and age drawing attention towards two very contrasting but important issues i.e. war crimes and the act of whistle blowing. It raises questions about the legitimacy of war and intervention by developed western countries into war torn, underdeveloped states. More importantly, however, it asks for a swift course of action for the safety and protection for whistle blowers.

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