An Officer and a Spy (film)
An Officer and a Spy (French: J'accuse) is a 2019 French-Italian historical drama film directed by Roman Polanski about the Dreyfus affair, with a screenplay by Polanski and Robert Harris based on Harris' 2013 novel of the same name. It had its premiere at the 76th Venice International Film Festival on 30 August 2019, winning the Grand Jury Prize.
|An Officer and a Spy|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Roman Polanski|
|Produced by||Alain Goldman|
|Based on||An Officer and a Spy|
by Robert Harris
|Music by||Alexandre Desplat|
|Edited by||Hervé de Luze|
|Box office||$11 million|
The film centers on the notorious 19th century Dreyfus affair. Jean Dujardin stars as French officer Georges Picquart. After being appointed chief of the army's intelligence section (Deuxième Bureau, service de renseignement militaire) in 1895, he discovers that doctored evidence was used to convict Alfred Dreyfus, one of the few Jewish members of the French Army's general staff, of passing military secrets to the German Empire. Picquart risks his career and his life, struggling for a decade to expose the truth and liberate the wrongly convicted Dreyfus from the dreaded Devil's Island prison.
- Jean Dujardin as Georges Picquart
- Louis Garrel as Alfred Dreyfus
- Emmanuelle Seigner as Pauline Monnier
- Mathieu Amalric as Alphonse Bertillon
- Melvil Poupaud as Fernand Labori
- Eric Ruf as Jean Sandherr
- Laurent Stocker as Georges-Gabriel de Pellieux
- Michel Vuillermoz as Armand du Paty de Clam
- Denis Podalydès as Edgar Demange
- Wladimir Yordanoff as Auguste Mercier
- Didier Sandre as Raoul Le Mouton de Boisdeffre
- Grégory Gadebois as Hubert-Joseph Henry
- Vincent Grass as Jean-Baptiste Billot
- Hervé Pierre as Charles-Arthur Gonse
Robert Harris was inspired to write the novel by his friend Polanski's longtime interest in the Dreyfus affair. Harris followed up the novel with a script of the same story, titled D, with Polanski announced as director in 2012.
This film marks the third time Harris has worked with Polanski. Harris previously co-wrote The Ghost Writer with Polanski, which was also an adaptation of one of Harris's novels, The Ghost. The two first teamed in 2007 on a film adaptation of Harris's novel Pompeii, which was cancelled just before filming due to a looming actors' strike.
Although set in Paris, An Officer and a Spy was first scheduled to shoot in Warsaw in 2014, for economic reasons. However, production was postponed after Polanski moved to Poland for filming and the U.S. Government filed extradition papers. The Polish government eventually rejected them, by which time new French film tax credits had been introduced, allowing the film to shoot on location in Paris.
The film was budgeted at €60m and was next set to start production in July 2016, however its production was postponed again, while Polanski waited on the availability of a star, whose name was not announced.
The film had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival on 30 August 2019. At the Venice Film Festival, the film won the Grand Jury Prize. During the Venice Film Festival the head of the jury Lucrecia Martel stated: "I don’t separate the man from the art. I think that important aspects of the work emerges in the man,” Martel said. “A man who commits a crime of this size who is then condemned, and the victim considers herself satisfied with the compensation is difficult for me judge… It is difficult to define what is the right approach we have to take with people who have committed certain acts and were judged for them. I think these questions are part of the debate in our times." Martel also stated she would not attend a gala dinner in support of the film. Polanski's producers threatened to pull the film from the festival lineup. Martel later clarified her comments stating: "According to some reports after today’s press conference, I believe my words were deeply misunderstood. Since I don’t separate the work from the author and I have recognized a lot of humanity in Polanski’s previous films, I am not opposed to the presence of the film in competition. I don’t have any prejudice towards it and of course I will watch the film like any other in the competition. If I had any prejudice, I would have resigned my duty as the president of the jury.” Prior to, Alberto Barbera the festival director of Venice defended the film being in the lineup stating: "We are here to see works of art, not to judge the person behind it. I hope we can just discuss about the quality of the film and not about Polanski and the case with L.A. County."
U.S. distribution companies rejected invitations to a buyers presentation during the Cannes Film Festival. However, Howard Cohen of Roadside Attractions stated: "I think we would consider it, though I’m not even sure how I personally feel. People have been releasing his films for years. Now, we are looking at it through a different lens, with good reason. We have to search our souls if it’s the right thing to do. What does it mean to release this movie? I don’t think that’s a settled question even in my mind.”
An Officer and a Spy holds 63% approval rating on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 19 reviews, with a weighted average of 6.27/10. On Metacritic, the film holds a rating of 56 out of 100, based on 9 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". The film received a standing ovation during its premiere in Venice, but has overall received mixed reviews from critics. David Sexton from the Evening Standard gave to the film a rating of 4 on 5, declaring that: "It's an absolute masterclass in how to make an historical film".
The film has received backlash due to the plot of the film relating to Polanski's sexual abuse case and further accusations of harassment and assault.
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- "Jean Dujardin on Instagram: "Fin de tournage! Merci à toute l'équipe. 🙏❤️ #jaccuse de #romanpolanski photo @guyferrandis"". Instagram.
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- Satta, di Gloria (31 August 2019). "Festival del cinema, Polanski oltre le polemiche elogi e applausi per il suo J'accuse". ilmessaggeroit.
- "An Officer and a Spy: Masterclass in how to make an historical film". Evening Standard. 30 August 2019.
- Pulver, Andrew (1 October 2018). "Social media outrage over Roman Polanski film J'Accuse". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 November 2019.
- Grisar, PJ (6 September 2019). "Does Roman Polanski's New Film Make The Dreyfus Affair About Him?". The Forward. Retrieved 2 November 2019.
- Sugarman, Daniel (5 September 2019). "Why we should not be watching Roman Polanski's film on the Dreyfus Affair". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 2 November 2019.