The Statement

"Terrible"

The Statement Review


No matter how much leeway you want to give certain films - whether they star an actress you like or are about a worthy subject - it just isn't enough, and you will end up disliking them no matter how much you don't want to. With some of these films, like The Statement, you end up coming close to actually hating the thing and hoping bad things happen to it.

An ostensible Nazi-hunting thriller that's far too impressed with its supposed moral ambiguity, The Statement is about former Vichy militia Pierre Brossard (Michael Caine) who, back in 1944, helped the Nazis round up and execute seven Jews in a small French town. It's based on the true story of Paul Touvier, who ordered such an execution on June 29, 1944 in southwestern France, and was sentenced to life in prison in 1995.

Set in the 1990s, the film follows Brossard as he hops from one hiding place to another around France (a secret society in the Catholic Church called the Chevalier have been keeping him safe since the war), while a judge and police officer (Annemarie Livi and Colonel Roux, played by Tilda Swinton and Jeremy Northam) try and track him down so that he can stand trial for his collaboration. At the same time, incredibly unskilled assassins are following Brossard, too, under orders from a high-ranking government and police official (John Neville and Ciarán Hinds), who may be part of a Jewish commando taking revenge or just want a cover-up.

One would imagine that director Norman Jewison would have figured out in all his decades of filmmaking just how it is you go about making a decent movie. He's got a mini-Altman film's worth of great actors, Nazis, secret societies, and government conspiracies to play with, as well. But it's literally as though an editor went through the film and excised everything that might have made it interesting. The scene at the start of the film where the first hapless killer tracks Caine through Provence is the least exciting chase in recent film history - you can almost see Jewison behind the camera saying, "No, have the cars drive slower" and instructing Caine to act as though he's about to fall asleep.

Although Caine was given some great opportunities here, he is a large part of the reason The Statement utterly fails. Having made the smart decision to play Brossard as a craven weakling - the kind of guy who will kill somebody in cold blood and then cry to his priest about it afterwards - Caine is never able to quite get a hold of the character; it's a muddled, near-embarrassing performance. The film manages one fantastic moment when Brossard seeks refuge from his long-estranged wife, who is played to perfection by an icy Charlotte Rampling, and we get a true glimpse of him, a racist coward who hides behind prayers and a stony dedication to the old, pre-Vatican II church. Unfortunately we are soon thrust back into another dull chase, the one being undertaken by Swinton and Northam, both glittery eye candy, but hardly believable in their roles as hard-bitten seekers of justice.

Jewison keeps the cops dashing about, interrogating church and government types, thinking that he's uncovering this seedy nest of complicity between the Church and the Nazis. Only it doesn't really show anything we didn't know before (see the unsuccessful but still far-better Amen. for more on that), and manages to be wrenchingly dull in the process; when the "mystery" is finally uncovered, it's an embarrassment, the Hardy Boys could have handled this thing in 15 minutes.

A definitive statement is made with the finger.



The Statement

Facts and Figures

Run time: 120 mins

In Theaters: Friday 27th February 2004

Box Office USA: $0.5M

Distributed by: Sony Pictures Classics

Production compaines: Company Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 1.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 24%
Fresh: 25 Rotten: 81

IMDB: 6.2 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Pierre Brossard, as Annemarie Livi, as Colonel Roux, as Armand Bertier, as Nicole, as Old Man, as Pochon, as Commissaire Vionnet, William Hutt as Le Moyne, as David Manenbaum, as Michael Levy


Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Amy Movie Review

Amy Movie Review

As with his Formula One documentary Senna, filmmaker Asaf Kapadia cleverly uses archival footage to...

Terminator Genisys Movie Review

Terminator Genisys Movie Review

This declining franchise really needed a jolt to the head, but the producers disappointingly opt...

Magic Mike XXL Movie Review

Magic Mike XXL Movie Review

Resisting the temptation to capitalise on the camp value of these characters, Channing Tatum and...

She's Funny That Way Movie Review

She's Funny That Way Movie Review

Wacky enough to make us smile but never laugh out loud, this screwball comedy harks...

Advertisement
Everly Movie Review

Everly Movie Review

A relentless onslaught of violent action, this movie is notable mainly because there's a woman...

Slow West Movie Review

Slow West Movie Review

First-time feature filmmaker John Maclean takes a strikingly original approach to the Western, creating a...

Mr. Holmes Movie Review

Mr. Holmes Movie Review

Despite this being a film about Sherlock Holmes, the fact that it's not much of...

Entourage Movie Review

Entourage Movie Review

Both shameless and shamelessly entertaining, this relentlessly boyish movie carries on exactly as the TV...

Advertisement