True stories about espionage rarely, if ever, live up to the on-screen antics of Daniel Craig’s shaken not stirred rendition of James Bond. Rather they can be slow, methodical and rather boring. Add to this the fact that Farewell is a French film about a French engineer working in Moscow and you have a right royal snorefest on your hands, especially if you attempt to watch it when you’re tired.
But true stories – even French ones – have something that Bond and the Hollywood machine rarely match with their overproduced action diet, and that is the magic of the story.
I’ll admit – well I kind have already – that Farewell was hard to get into, but somewhere along the way the magic kicked in. Something clicked and I was instantly awake, devouring the events taking place on screen. This was not only history, but a personal story (mostly) about two people, both to some extent disenchanted with their life. One, a KGB Colonel only wants to effect change so his son can grow up in a better world, the other, a French engineer sees a way to add a little spice to his life, and maybe help secure the coveted position in New York.
The tangled little web that was to become the most important espionage operation in the Cold War, one that would eventually lead to the collapse of the Soviet Union, was, at least according to Farewell, more about friendship than anything else.
Brilliantly crafted, Farewell is a fascinating look into a period of history that many of us have lived through, and though the story resonates in a similar vein as Breach, it far outshines the tale of an American traitor though it’s sheer down to earth approach, and understated direction.
What starts off slow ends up becoming an emotional race to the end mainly due to the process of getting to know the main players and wanting so bad for everything to work out.
Reviewed by: Jonathan
Releasing on DVD: 23rd February, 2011