Sunday, June 2, 2013

Film Review: The Debt

This film had been sitting in our house for about three months during which we did not get a chance to watch it.  I'm quite glad we finally did.

A remake of an Israeli film, The Debt revolves around two Israeli men and one Israeli woman who, as part of their country's intelligence service are sent to East Germany in the 60's to identify and hopefully kidnap a former Nazi doctor known to have conducted heinous experiments on Jews during WWII.

The film moves back and forth between these characters during the 60's and their modern counterparts who are still attempting to resolve the issues their prior actions have set in motion some 40 years earlier.  The pairing of Helen Mirren and Jessica Chastain as the older and younger versions of Rachel Singer is perfect and Chastain is better here than she was in Zero Dark Thirty.  The other supporting actors in both their younger and older versions are also excellent.

Evidently the most common complaint regarding the film is the confusing nature of the narrative which moves back and forth in time on a number of occasions.  I didn't find these changes to be the least bit distracting or confusing and neither did my wife who is usually quite susceptible to "complex" story structures.  I'd say if you're confused watching this film, you might be better off at the megaplex watching Fast and Furious 6.

A quite literal film the story is a straightforward one of a broken mission, an unintended love triangle, lies told to cover up the failed mission, guilt and an attempt to fix past wrongs.  New ground is not broken in terms of storylines but it is well done.  The Nazi is appropriately evil and there is just enough ambivalence and questioning of the Israeli's methods and reasoning that the film is not a work of hero worship.

This is a very good thriller that is worth your time that shouldn't be overlooked for one of the more enjoyable films of 2011.

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