10th October 2019 5.00pm at Embankment Garden Cinema
11th October 2019 3.00pm at Embankment Garden Cinema
13th October 2019 3.00pm at Ciné Lumière
“Revealed: US dirty tricks to win vote on Iraq war,” read the Observer’s main headline on Sunday 2nd March 2003, weeks before the US military invasion. Official Secrets, Gavin Hood’s new eye-opening drama, divulges to its audience the lead-up to and aftermath of a damning memo that young whistleblower Katharine Gun sent to the press, hoping to deter a thankless war. The memo, sent from a senior official at the NSA, implored GCHQ employees to dig up information in order to swing a UN vote concerning the Iraq war.
A smoothly composed script clearly paints the looming infrastructures of power operating in society. Beginning as a dive into the murky depths of government malfeasance, Official Secrets is clear in its assertion that it only skims the surface. However, Hood also teases at a more intimate drama between Gun and her husband, Yasar (Adam Bakri). The story, like many successful journalism dramas, allows the snarky, quick-witted dialogue of the newsroom to provide a humorous touch. A British-English British-American spelling mishap articulates how the absurdities of life prevail even in the highest-stakes situations.
The film’s steady and decisive plot is secured by fastidious performances from A-list talent including Keira Knightley, Liam Neeson and Matt Smith. Knightley effortlessly proves her ability to portray outward restraint and vulnerability in combination with a character’s internally racing psyche. Rhys Ifans is fearless in his approach to the tenacious, albeit zany, journalist Ed Vulliamy.
Blurring the lines between documentary and narrative, the patchwork of news footage and fiction elevates the gravity of the war and places the film’s thematic probings directly in its audience’s lived context. Hood meticulously pulls back the curtain and asks questions about moral responsibility in a world governed by the morally dubious. Official Secrets is a well-intentioned, well-crafted film that hits its mark and is clear in its intentions – a stark contrast to the nefarious institutions it depicts.
Official Secrets is released nationwide on 18th October 2019.
Read more reviews and interviews from our London Film Festival 2019 coverage here.
For further information about the festival visit the official BFI website here.
Watch the trailer for Official Secrets here: