An Officer and a Spy (J’Accuse)
Eight years after the success of Carnage, celebrated auteur Roman Polanski returns to the Venice Film Festival with a historical drama revolving around the Dreyfus affair, one of the most influential socio-political events of the late 19th to early 20th century.
The Polish director delivers a masterfully crafted reconstruction of Paris 1894. Louis Garrel is exquisite in his portrayal of Jewish officer Alfred Dreyfus, who is accused of and convicted of treason. However, it’s Jean Dujardin who steals the scene as Georges Picquart, the head of secret services who investigates the wrongdoing within the military and seeks a re-trial.
Despite exceeding two hours, the pace of J’Accuse never misses a beat thanks to Robert Harris’s screenplay – based on his own novel – which delivers a beautiful combination of historical details and gripping storytelling. The film is set in another era but the universal nature of this miscarriage of justice makes it relevant in our day and age – and incredibly interesting to follow.
If Polanski’s movie is so fascinating, it’s also thanks to the entire technical assemble. Pawel Edelman’s cinematography is superb, with visuals that are capable of pleasing old-school critics as well as viewers who tend to rely on over-polished mainstream cinema. Alexandre Desplat’s trademark climatic score helps understand the relevance of this event as well as the personal drama of Dreyfus.
The ageing director hasn’t lost his touch; hopefully we’ll see a few more works of his in the next decade.
Filippo L’Astorina, the Editor
An Officer and a Spy (J’Accuse) does not have a release date yet.
Watch a clip fromAn Officer and a Spy (J’Accuse) here: