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Movie Review: Farewell

Alternate Title: The Man Who Knew Too Much

Story: Can an ordinary (sort of) citizen topple governments? In this fascinating, gripping spy thriller directed by Christian Carion and written by Eric Raynaud and based on the novel “Bonjour Farewell” by Serguei Kostine we get a peek at a tiny piece of history that pretty much changed the world.

It helps if you are over 50 to appreciate all of the details in this riveting story of patriotism, spies, betrayal, secrets and lies that is based on a true story that happened in 1981.

Griegoriev is a Colonel in the KGB. He is disheartened about the state of the State in Soviet Russia. He decides that the country is going in the wrong direction and wants a better life for his teenage son. He decides to give State secrets to the West in order for his country to get on the right track. How he handles this exchange of secrets is the best part of the film. He does not do it for money. He does it for his country, his son and the better life of all. It is a treat to watch him, his evolving mind, his heart, his soul, his sacrifice.

The most important thing is that we care very deeply about him. his family and the family that gets involved in the exchange of secrets.

Watch the trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xIc5R7VQLLs

Acting: Real life Serbian directorEmir Kusturica as Grigoriev is perfect. He is the heart of the film. Guillaume Canet as Pierre is also perfect as the French connection. The rest of the cast is also terrific including: Alexandra Maria Lara (Jessica), Ingeborga Dapkunaite (Natasha), Dina Korzun (Alina), Evgenie Kharlanov (Igor), Willem Dafoe (Feeney), Philippe Magnan (François Mitterrand) and Fred Ward as a weird Ronald Reagan.

Trivia: Vladimir Ippolitovich Vetrov (1932 -1985) was a KGB spy during the Cold War, who passed on to NATO extremely valuable information about the Soviet program to obtain technology from the West. He was code-named Farewell by the French intelligence service DST, which recruited him, and he was known by this name throughout NATO intelligence services. His history inspired the this film. Between the spring of 1981 and early 1982 he handed over to the DST almost 4,000 secret documents, including the complete official list of 250 Line X officers stationed under legal cover in embassies around the world. Among the information he provided was a complete breakdown of the organization of the Soviet effort for collecting scientific and technical information, which included elements of the GRU, the Soviet Academy of Sciences, and several other bodies. In addition, he provided summaries on the goals, achievements, and unfilled objectives of the program. His information also identified nearly 100 leads to sources in 16 countries. His career came to an end in February 1982 when, after a period of drinking caused by a cooling off period imposed by the French (fearful of discovery through too much contact), Vetrov stabbed, but did not kill, his mistress while drinking Champagne in his parked car. A man (a fellow KGB officer) knocked on the window. Thinking his spying had been discovered, he jumped out and stabbed the man, killing him. He was arrested, tried, and sentenced to 12 years in jail in the fall of 1982.

Predilection: None

Critters: A wolf (very important) and lots of dogs.

Sex Spectrum: Some extra marital fumbling.

Opening Titles: All titles at the end.

Visual Art: The vast grayness of Russia is perfectly depicted.

Theater Audience: About 20 other people.

Weather: Cold

Drift Factor: I paid attention throughout.

Oscar Worthy: Probably not.

Big Screen or Rental: I always vote for the big screen.

Length: Under two hours.