This Week's Film Reviews (Sep 2, 2011)

02 Sep 2011

Watch out for bad movies opening this week!  Two opening arrive without press screenings – APOLLO 18 and SHARK NIGHT 3D.  Be afraid, very afraid!

THE DEBT has an early Wed opening with Helen Mirren as a Mosaad agent with Israeli accent.  Is The Queen trying too hard?

THE DEBT (USA 2010) **
Directed by John Madden

THE DEBT is a remake of the Israeli film HA-HOV (never released in North America) which has the premise of bringing a Nazi criminal to justice.  The criminal in question is Dr. Vogel who has murdered and maimed hundreds of children in his medical experiments during World War II.

In 1966, Dr. Vogel (Jesper Christensen) is practising normal medicine in East Berlin.  The espionage thriller begins in 1997, as shocking news reaches retired Mossad secret agents Rachel (Helen Mirren) and Stephan (Tom Wilkinson) about their former colleague David (Ciarán Hinds). All three have been venerated for decades by their country because of the mission that they undertook back in 1966, when the trio (portrayed, respectively, by Jessica Chastain from the recent TREE OF LIFE and THE HELP, Marton Csokas, and Sam Worthington tracked down Nazi war criminal Vogel  in East Berlin. Things went terribly wrong.  The trio kidnapped Dr. Vogel who eventually escaped.  They claimed he was shot by Rachel while escaping.  Now, after a book has been published by Rachel’s daughter, the real Dr. Vogel comes forth to say that he is still alive.  Agent Rachel is forced to pay the debt of the lie by having to kill him.

All this sounds a bit much in plot for the simple premise.  The film, for one shifts too often, uncomfortably between 1997 and 1966.  The script by 3 writers Jane Goldman, Matthew Vaughn and Peter Straughan has too many unnecessary distractions to the plot.  One might excuse the love relationship between Rachel and David and the enmity between David and Stephan for Rachel’s affections that piques interest into the film, but the Rachel and the daughter relationship, rekindling of past affairs and the Rachel’s claustrophobic outbursts could have been dispensed with.

The actors all speak with Israeli accents, something that makes one feel weird, after seeing Mirren, Worthington, Wilkinson and Hinds in countless other movies.

With the ultra violent and dramatic confrontations towards the ending of the film, THE DEBT loses all credibility as an authentic case in history, something that the film tries so hard to establish throughout.


Best Film Opening This Week:  nil (Stay home if you must!)

Best Film Playing: Attack the Block
Best Comedy: Bridesmaids
Best Family: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
Best Documentary: Chasing Madoff
Best Foreign: Sarah’s Key (Elle S’appelait Sarah)

Avoid: Too many to list (Stay home if you have to!)

Gilbert’s Top TIFF Picks

My top 3 TIFF picks are:

The Skin I Live In



They have the common theme of paedophilia, not because I am a paedophile but for the reason that these films make the most intriguing and disturbing dramas.

My other 2 picks are:

There is Something Wrong About Kevin (troubled youth/troubled parents)


Le Havre (Kaurismaki is my favourite dead pan comedic director)

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