Wednesday, 31 August 2011 13:55

The Debt Featured

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Focus Features, Miramax, Pioneer Pictures and Marv Films present an R rated, 114 minute dramatic thriller directed by John Madden, written by Matthew Vaughn, Jane Goldman and Peter Strughan with a release date of August 31, 2011.

The year is 1966 and three people; two men and one woman emerge from a plane that has landed on a military base in Israel.  Flash forward to the current time in Tel Aviv, Sarah Gold (Romi Aboulafia) is standing in front of a room full of family, friends and admirers as she promotes her new book that is inspired by her mother, Rachel Singer (Helen Mirren).  Arriving late is Sarah’s father, Stephan Gold (Tom Wilkinson) Rachel’s ex-husband, intelligence officer, who may have been on time for Sarah’s event but he just witnessed the death of his longtime friend and fellow Mossad secret agent David Peretz (Ciaran Hinds) who took his own life by walking in front of a speeding truck.  As Rachel reads a caption from her daughter’s book for everyone at the dinner, we the audience, are sent back approximately 30 years to 1965.

It is New Year’s Eve and a young Rachel (Jessica Chastain) is at her apartment putting pots on the floor to collect rain water that is leaking from the ceiling.  As she moves further in to the apartment we notice a man tied up and sitting on the floor with tape across his mouth.  Moments later, the man escapes his ropes, rustles in the hallway with Rachel, slices her face, and soon leaves her bloodied on the floor as he races down a staircase to freedom.  As he runs down an alley Rachel makes her way to a balcony with a pistol and pulls the trigger and the man falls to his death.  Moments later she is finished reading the caption from her daughter’s book and the audience is brought back to 1997.  Quite a clever but at times confusing way the Director brings the audience back and forth from present time to 30 years ago but thankfully as the story progresses the confusion disappears as all holes soon get filled and leveled out.

Back 30 years again we discover just how the threesome came to meet and the triangular tensions that evolve while they are on their mission to find and bring back to Israel, Doktor Bernhardt otherwise known as the Surgeon of Birkenau or more accurately, Dieter Vogel (Jesper Christensen).  He was known for the murders of thousands of Jews and young Rachel, Stephan (Marton Csokas) and David (Sam Worthington) were on a mission in Berlin, East Germany, the Soviet Sector to bring him to justice.  Vogel is working as an OBYGN in Berlin and Rachel has become one of his patients posing as a woman trying to get pregnant with her husband David.  Back at the apartment Rachel has slept with Stephan even though she has feelings for David who by the way is living with many inner family secrets that pain him too much to discuss with the others.  There is some incredible writing in this film that is projected many times through the use of captions since several scenes in the story are spoken entirely in German, giving the audience some brilliant dialogue to follow. 

Once Vogel is captured by the three agents he is taken back to their apartment where he is tied up until they have the window of opportunity to transport him by train out of Berlin.  A well devised plan that ends up not quite going as well as they thought it would mainly due to some minor errors and emotions that got in the way.  Stuck in Berlin with the Nazi’s looking for them since they can now identify Rachel’s face the three begin to experience claustrophobia, secrets begin to wear heavy and the psychological abuse coming from Vogel’s lips as he states Jews do not know how to kill only how to die is just one sentence of many worthy of slitting his throat.  Since the three slipped up on their mission they are now on their own and not even the Americas will get involved at this point.  There are many avenues the writers could have gone down in this story but they apparently decided to stay with one and for the most part it works but tends to get a bit sluggish at times.

Matters soon turn from bad to worse though when the captions in Sarah’s novel soon catch up with the reality of the truth and the cover up of the lies.  Vogel did cut his ropes and he did struggle with Rachel but never judge a book by its cover and sometimes the words that line the chapters from within the pages are not as they played out in life.  Only four people really know what happened in that apartment in 1965 and since David is now dead and Stephan has ended up in a wheel chair, there is only one person possible to right the wrong that was made over 30 years ago.  As Rachel makes a trip to Kiev Ukraine she comes face to face with her demons and in an ironic fight to the end what was once a lie of thirty years has now become a reality, even after the truth be told. 

Even though the story lacks any action or really thrilling moments it does have a great twisting story line which will keep the audience focused on what they think is going on.  There is irony to the story and mental visions of the horrors that prevailed back in the 60’s in Berlin.  I must say that it was a very intriguing cast of characters but the stand out of them all is Rachel and the actress’s that played her both young and old.  A film usually cannot go wrong with Mirren in it and once again she proves why but I must say that Chastain even more so made me appreciate her role since she was spot on with every move she made in the story.  Christensen was a true thriller with dialogue of horror stories about what the Germans did to the Jews during those times.  Hinds doesn’t have a huge role but like Wilkinson does it justice by all means.  Csokas is quite believable as the young version of Wilkinson making you love him and sometimes despise him all together.  It was nice to see Worthington take his acting abilities to another level with that of dialogue, true grit and emotions making you believe his pain, not entirely perfect but closer than ever before when it comes to a film that entails more story than action.  In the end, this film will strike a chord with the audience out for a more intellectual movie rather than that of brainless humor or butt kicking action.  Written with two and half paws out of four by Jon Patch.

Read 3546 times Last modified on Wednesday, 31 August 2011 14:00
Jon Patch

Graduated from Penn State University in 1983 and landed my first broadcasting job at the flagship station to SUN Radio Network in St. Petersburg, FL as a producer of talk radio. In 3 months advanced to a network producer, then on air as a national eventually local weather reporter for the Tampa Bay area. Held a position in management as a trainer to new hosts and producers and later Affiliate Relations Manager, eventually in 1990 started hosting, Talkin' Pets. Left SUN radio several years later and worked with USA Radio Networks for 1 year. I worked with Business TalkRadio & Lifestyle TalkRadio Networks for19 years under the title of V.P. Affiliate Relations and Programming, later worked with Genesis Communications until starting a new network ATRN.  Currently working with GAB Radio Network and with Josh Leng at Talk Media Network.  I am still hosting the largest and longest running pet radio and internet show in the country, Talkin' Pets, for the past 29 years... My one true passion in life is to help to educate the world through interviews with celebrities like Betty White, Tippi Hedren, Bob Barker, Linda Blair and others, authors, foundations and organizations like the ASPCA, LCA, HSUS, AHA, WSPA on the ways to make this world a better place for all animals and mankind whom all share this very fragile and mysterious planet called earth. This is the only home we have so we all need to learn how to share and maintain it so that life for us all continues and evolves forever... | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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