(with a four-star serving of Mr. Caine)
Starring: Michael Caine, Tilda Swinton, Jeremy Northam and Alan
Directed by: Norman Jewison
Statement is an odd little film. The premise, based on a best
seller by Brian Moore, is strong and eye opening but the execution
is just strange.
ripped from the pages of a dark piece of history we
meet a young Nazi, in a French uniform, named Pierre Broussard.
is in the middle of condemning seven Jewish men to firing squad
in a small French town. He's smiling and actually enjoying the
men's collective horror...
speaks with a strong cockney accent - so I was thrown for a loop
he a Brit that joined the French to kill innocents? I sat and
pondered as the film moved forward
leave the cold shameful past and the film returns to 1992. Broussard,
now in his seventies (and now Sir Michael Caine) is sipping beer
at a French bistro. A man is watching his every move and reporting
to another. Apparently Broussard has an assassin on his tail.
Before you can say, "Oy! Why's everyone in this film speaking
in a Briti.." Broussard's old wolf-like instincts kick
in as he huffs and puffs himself to safety - he gets the upper
hand shall we say.
back in Paris
a "judge" of some-sort (Tilda Swinton)
is searching for Broussard. He had been pardoned from war crime
proceedings after the war but now they've sentenced him via "crimes
against humanity" and he's due in a prison cell. Her motives
for hunting down the war criminal are two-fold ; it's her job
and an ode to her heritage.
also speaks in fluent English - upper crusty and proper
it a British wing of the French government I was still thinking?
given a helper (Jeremy Northam). He's a military man more into
the getting the job done - then into silly emotional attachments.
Oh, and, of course he's British
or is he?
watch as Broussard is hunted by several sources in the twilight
of his life. Added to the growing pot of his lukewarm cauldron
of subplots? Who should show up as an unlikely aide to the running
man? The Catholic Church. Seems, in actual real-life fact, a small
"leftist" part of the church did indeed assist Nazis
in rooting out Jews. Shudder. In this convoluted tale,
Broussard was one of their "disciples." Now they stand
by their man, secretly and unannounced, as they shelter him and
lie to authorities on his behalf.
The Statement quickly becomes an annoying cat and rat chase
through a gorgeous backdrop of Southern French countrysides. The
whole British speaking cast confused me from the get go (and I'm
not exactly a dunce). That hideous faux pas Enemy
at the Gates pulled the same British voiced German characters
(Okay, The Pianist,
which was remarkable, did too) both these confusing films would
have done better to hire a dialect coach and French-up the scenes
that negativity having been said...there is an upside to the film.
Sir Michael Caine. He's probably the only man we could watch as
a cold-hearted murdering bastard and still somehow feel bad for
him. It's got everything to do with his talents. This Broussard
chap is cold, calculating evil. He's devoid of any human morals
and a coward. But, Caine somehow gives him such a spark of blind
follower we can't help but feel a smidge bad for the guy
not bad, but "enough already" he's a moron that just
doesn't get it and never will. Broussard deserves death - Caine's
charm leaks through
Swinton and Jeremy Northam have awkward roles. Aside from the
fact I thought they were Interpol's London branch for half the
they are, well, shockingly over dramatic - lacking only
a recurring du-du-du-dummmm theme to accent their strained dialog.
Sure, Northam still makes your manly-man loving forehead bead
up in a sweat, as sugar-plum images of his character's oh-so-form-fitting
military uniform have you imagining what it would look like thrown
over a lion clawed chair as he wraps himself in a bearskin rug
before a roaring Yorkshire fire
but the film just wastes
the lad's immense
Speaking? Director Norman Jewison is sometimes great sometimes
not. I admit - I'm not in with him on this film. All this talent
- dolloped with brand names in small roles (Charlotte Rampling,
Ciaran Hinds etc) throughout
and still barely a fizzle of
yum from the whole yarn. Shame because Caine shed his wink and
really delivers one of his finest roles ever.