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The Statement
cast: Michael Caine, Tilda Swinton, Jeremy Northam, Charlotte Rampling, and Alan Bates

director: Norman Jewison

114 minutes (12) 2003 widescreen ratio 2.35:1
Momentum DVD Region 2 rental or retail
Also available to rent on video

RATING: 8/10
reviewed by Tom Matic
Although Michael Caine stars in this film as a Vichy Nazi collaborator on the run from French justice, Alan Bates gets all the best lines. His politician character tells Tilda Swinton (playing the judge pursuing Caine): "When politics and the law collide, the law always comes off worst."
   "So what happens when politics and justice collide?" asks Swinton.
   "The same, only more so," he replies.
   The judge and her rather wooden sidekick the colonel (Jeremy Northam) determined to catch up with Pierre Brossard (Caine) before someone else does. Apparently that someone is a group of Jewish 'commandos' who are trying to assassinate him in revenge for ordering the massacre of seven Jews during the Occupation. However this group is not all it seems. Meanwhile judge and colonel do their best to smoke out the fugitive, exposing a conspiracy within the Catholic Church to shelter the war criminal. When even his Brothers in Christ disown him, he is forced to seek refuge with his estranged wife (Charlotte Rampling).
   It is in this scene, where Brossard turns up in her Marseille apartment and starts threatening her beloved dog that we get a sense of how unpleasant he can be. The rest of the time Caine plays the Nazi as an abjectly pathetic figure, grovelling before the priests and anyone else who will give him succour. It is clear that Brossard was drawn to fascism by his faith, seeing Hitler's Germany as an ally against the communist atheists. But anyone expecting Brossard to give a spirited defence of his actions in these or any other terms will be disappointed: all we see is a desperate, furtive creature prepared to do anything to save his own skin.
   Aside from its portrait of Brossard and shrewd study of realpolitik in mid-1990s' France, The Statement is a taut and gripping political thriller that keeps you guessing until the final frame. Perhaps the only drawback is the aforementioned scene between Caine and Rampling, where his petty cruelty seems at odds both with the depth of his past depravity and with his Uriah Heep-like fawning before the other people who shelter him. On the other hand, this interlude serves to emphasise that we should not be fooled by Brossard's harmless-old-man act. We have already seen how ruthless he can be, when dispatching his would-be assassins.

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