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4.2 out of 5 stars
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4.2 out of 5 stars
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Although his films aren't always artistic successes, Michael Caine is one of my favorite actors, and at his best when his character is cheekily likable, e.g. in THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING (1975), SLEUTH (1972), SECONDHAND LIONS (2003). Rarely, he plays someone hateful, the most recent coming to mind being SHINER (2000). Here, in THE STATEMENT, his on-screen persona is oddly ambiguous, and it's left to supporting characters to provide the plot's protagonists.
It's June 1942, and a young Vichy French police officer, Pierre Brossard, supervises the round-up and execution of seven Jews by a contingent of German soldiers. After the war, he's charged with murder and collaboration with the enemy, but he escapes from prison, apparently aided by former superiors in the police establishment. Now, it's 1992, and Brossard (Michael Caine) lives in constant fear of exposure. A fervent Catholic, he skulks from French monastery to monastery, wherein he finds refuge with the help of sympathetic abbots and Church officials. A retired, former police official provides regular payments of money for frugal, day-to-day living. Now, Brossard is apparently being pursued by Jewish activists bent on his assassination. And if he hasn't worries enough, the French Justice Ministry has assigned a judge, Annemarie Livi (Tilda Swinton), and a police investigator, Colonel Roux (Jeremy Northam), to track Pierre down and take him into custody charged with war crimes. Are the two events related?
Pierre's wartime atrocity and his cold-hearted willingness to protect himself at any cost in the present are unlikely to endear him to the audience. On the other hand, the nature of the conspiracy against him by sinister forces, his failing health, and his sincere, if somewhat pathetic, religiousness render him an individual of some ambiguity. In the end, while Livi and Roux are the characters the viewer will naturally root for, Brossard will attract some small amount of sympathy because, perhaps, it's the popular Michael Caine in the role.
For me, the biggest problem with this otherwise reasonably intelligent film is the casting. Caine's Cockney British accent is never entirely submerged, and the other main roles have gone to Brits, most obviously Northam and Swinton. This is, after all, supposed to be France, but it might as well have been rural Hampshire! And it's never made clear why both the Church and powerful members of the government found it necessary or desirable to protect such a low-level Vichy functionary for so long anyway. Some conspiracies play better as fiction, and the Church is an ever-popular villain, especially if the Jesuits or a rogue cardinal or two are involved.
THE STATEMENT justly rates three stars, but I'm bumping it up a notch solely for Caine's performance (despite the accent). Northam and Swinton are also both effective.
One of the DVD's special features is an interview with Michael, in which he reveals that he was attracted to the Brossard role simply because he's rarely asked to play an unpleasant character not softened by his trademark cheeky humor. (I guess he forgot about SHINER!)
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on 7 January 2005
When I read Brian Moore's book a few years ago I was hooked from the first page. It is a tight, thoughtful and gripping thriller based on real events. The film is true to the book and a very good adaptation with great performances by a top knotch cast. Caine is superb, but so are all the others. I highly recommend it even though its portrayal of the Catholic Church is perhaps rather one sided and negative - fostering the idea of secret societies and complicity.
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on 4 November 2015
Very much one of Michael Caine's better,more substantial,post Harry Palmer,thriller movies dealing with a subject that is not to be talked about in France,even to this day. Real hypocrisy and double standards stalk through this story,and Caines depiction of a n ageing,guilt ridden member of the wartime Milice,running and hiding from retribution over the years,is outstanding.\The ending has a twist which I will not reveal,suffice to say that when you're in real trouble,the only place to look for a helping hand,is on the end of your own arm!
A high quality product,delivered safely before thge due date,if you're a Michael Caine fan,or like good thrillers,this is a must for your library,and a great way to spend a dreary sunday afternoon in Merrie Olde Engerlande!
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First we see the executions of seven Jews in Vichy France overseen by Milice officer Pierre Brossard, a change from black and white to colour and from 1944 to 1992 and after hardly a word of dialogue you just know that Pierre Brossard (Michael Caine) is still evading capture 48 years later.

Brossard is hunted by a shadowy organisation operated at arms length by senior politicians compromised in WW11 and also the law headed by Judge Annemarie Livi (Tilda Swinton on top form) and Colonel Roux (Jeremy Northam), the Catholic priests he relies for shelter are forced to turn against him.

Caine does a wonderful job with his character, at the end you are still asking questions, is he really a devote catholic or is he just a callous blackmailer exploiting the church to ensure his safety?

As he shambles around with heart problems does one pity him or want him to suffer a slow painful death?

Alternatively after 48 years should we say enough is enough and let the pitiful creature live, yet how pitiful is he as he very professionally kills two assassins sent after him?

An engrossing film, questions and uncertainty is what it is all about.
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"The Statement," a 120 minute, 2003 film, is a violent, dark, suspenseful picture. It's a political thriller/crime drama, an independent production, apparently put together by Canadian/French/British studios -I see mention made of the CBC and the BBC--and it cost $23 million to make. Yet, despite a plethora of talent before and behind the cameras, including its Oscar-winning star Michael Caine, it lost $22 million. An odd case, that. Still, I found it an interesting film.

It was made onsite, in France, and gives us lots of beautiful French Riviera scenery. In addition, someone connected with the film's art department has given us some ravishingly lovely art nouveau set dressing; all the bars look so beautiful you'd gladly live in them, and there's an old-fashioned glass elevator door that's just heart stopping. Another oddity of the film: despite the fact that it is set in France, and tells a story set in France, it was made with an entirely British cast, who do not attempt those funny "continental" accents; on one of the disk's extras, the director says he believes British actors can play continental particularly well, and he doesn't think those accents are really appropriate: the French speaking French in their own country don't speak with accents.

During World War II, Frenchman Pierre Brossard, who collaborated happily with his country's Nazi occupiers and the Vichy government they created, murdered 14 Jews. Many years later, in the early 1990's, it's his turn to be the prey again, as he was after war's end, when a new law punishing `crimes against humanity,' is passed. A Nazi hunter, the police and hired killers pick up his trail. The Oscar-winning Caine, the world's favorite cockney actor - some might think him an odd casting choice for this role--plays the protagonist Brossard. Caine, who took home Hollywood's favorite statuette for Hannah and Her Sisters , and Batman Begins / The Dark Knight , was, he says in the disk's extras, after a low period in his career, in the midst of a great career revival. Odd casting or not, he gives another brilliant performance, pretty much carrying the picture. His character is a many-faceted one- a pious, religious man, devout Catholic and cold-blooded Nazi war criminal. Caine downplays his considerable natural charm and humor, and gives us a vivid portrait of a conflicted, disturbed, frightening man: he remarks in the extras that though he has played rather few villains in his long, sterling career, he was able to play this one, as people seldom think themselves monsters. Whatever, he still has his characteristic cockney walk, and I still think him one of the greatest actors alive.

The much-admired Scottish actress Tilda Swinton( The Deep End ,The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader ) plays Annemarie Livi, French judge with a Jewish father. (French judges have many more powers than American or British, including the ability to investigate and follow cases.) Handsome Jeremy Northam () plays Colonel Roux, whom Livi taps to work with her on the case. Alan Bates (Oliver's Travels ,Women in Love ) plays Armand Bertier, high French official, who has a long standing friendship with the Livi family. The beautiful and mysterious actress Charlotte Rampling, who jump-started her career with Luchino Visconti's The Damned , and then The Night Porter , before moving to France to live with her French musician husband Maurice Jarre, and play in several successful French films, is wasted in the small part of Brossard's wife Nicole. Other well-known British players, including John Neville, Ciaran Hinds, Frank Finlay, Malcolm Sinclair, Edward Petherbridge, Colin Salmon and David de Keyser round out the cast in supporting roles. Thank goodness, the disk has subtitles, as all these well-bred Britishers never raise their voices.

The film was directed by the talented, Canadian-born Norman Jewison (FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, MOONSTRUCK, HEAT OF THE NIGHT). It was based on the novel of the same name, which was apparently based on a true story, by the Irish-Canadian novelist/screenwriter Brian Moore (THE LONELY PASSION OF JUDITH HEARNE, TORN CURTAIN, THE LUCK OF GINGER COFFEY). He was said to be the favorite young writer of the extraordinary Graham Greene, the Catholic convert novelist who explored his new religion until his death. And who else but an Irishman such as Moore would dare to show the Church in such an unflattering light? The South African born actor/screenwriter, Ronald Harwood, also an Oscar winner (THE PIANIST, THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY), penned the script. Well, all this talent has put together a confusing, badly-organized motion picture. But it's worth seeing once, particularly if you are a Michael Caine fan, as am I.
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on 16 May 2013
This film is very one dimensional. The contribution of some of the actors - Alan Bates, John Neville and to a lesser extent Charlotte Rampling was minimal. This is not a problem in itself but it would seem that they had been included simply to incorporate their names on the cast list . I could have memorised their lines in 10 minutes.
The potential was there for a pretty good film but it fell well short. I am not however as critical with regard to Michael Caine who does provide some insight to the main character. Tilda Swinton and Jeremy Northam are around for most of the film but again their characters do not develop.
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on 24 August 2004
A fine exhibition of English ensemble acting brings real life to what should have been a servicable if inventive Nazi-hunt thriller. When Caine pumps the third, "certain" bullet into his would-be assassin, you realise this might be better than you expect, and your hunch is right.
Why have I never seen Caine act before? He clearly can. The terrible stain of his youth's Vichy excess generates real Catholic superstition in his war criminal, and a convincing fear of his own mortality.
Surprising thesps (Charlotte Rampling, for example) pop up like zits before a first date, but delight in their with easy, unselfish skill.
You'll want to know what Tilda Swinton's magistrate does next. Believe me, you will. This film demands it.
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on 14 April 2015
In Provence generally, this film rather exploits the locations like Morse does Oxford but with a less twisty plot; it also lets us in on who's doing what pretty much. As always with things related to the Holocaust, there is a sense of whether it should be entertaining. It is done in a professional quiet way with Caine an interesting psychopath desperate for redemption and to excuse himself. The performances, especially Swinton are all a little odd as if they are somehow dubbing themselves. The choice is that everyone speaks English and the younger Caine is recognised by his cockney articulation in the mouth of his youthful imitator. There are touches of Hitchcock which don't in the end develop; a bit of Chabrol; and it's an English language policier with picture postcard views of the South. Not brilliant but not bad and unfussily directed.
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on 23 March 2009
I note that another reviewer has slammed Michael Caine's performance in this film. All I can say is that he must have watched a different film to to me. Caine is outstanding as an aging French war criminal who forty years after the end of the world is finally facing justice of a sort. Caine plays Pierre Brossard a minor French war criminal who was responsable for the murder of seven French Jews. I say minor only because others murdered many thousands more and it is clear from this film that others did worse and continued to prosper in post war France.

Brossard has been hidden for years with the aid of the Catholic Church but it appears that a Jewish group has tracked him down and is planning his murder. Unknown to Brossard the Jewish group is a ruse and the real people out to kill him are his former allies in the French establishment and police for whom he has become a liabilty.

At the same time a judge (Tilda Swinton) and a Gendarmerie Colonel (Jeremy Northam) are trying to find him before the killers do.

It is Caine's skill as an actor which allows us to be repulsed by Brossard, he is a coward and a bully, whilst at the same time feeling sympathy for him, he is a frightened old man betrayed by his friends.

Frank Finlay and Edward Petherbridge are also very good in smaller supporting roles.

The fiqure of Brossard was inspired by Paul Touvier who in 1994 was sentenced to life imprisonment after being sheltered by the Catholic Church for year.

All in all a superior and thoughtfull thriller
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For the first 15 minutes or so it's hard to see quite why Norman Jewison's The Statement drew such derision during its blink-and-you'll-miss-it theatrical run. Then Michael Caine starts to Act with a capital A and suddenly the film falls to bits around you as you realize just how horribly miscast the whole thing is.

Brian Moore's source novel could almost be a belated sequel to Lacombe, Lucien, with its French Nazi collaborator finding himself on the run from both the police and a group of assassins in the wake of the new Crimes Against Humanity laws, in the process relying on the help of those officials who slipped through the net after the war and those in the Catholic Church who approved of his anti-communist rationale for his actions. It's a fine part for the right actor - say Philippe Noiret or Jean Rochefort - but a terrible one for Caine, playing to all his weaknesses: he's never been good at grief, extroverted rage or Uriah Heapish obsequiousness, all of which are required here as the character hovers between a desperate religious faith and callous manipulation and all of which Caine fails miserably at. Sadly he's not alone. As if to compensate for the absurdity of casting a cockney as a Vichy Frenchman, this Anglo-Canadian-French co-production doesn't have a single French actor in a speaking role, instead populating the film almost entirely with British character actors delivering 'typically French' dialogue, though thankfully none attempt the accent. It's not so much that they're even bad actors, just the wrong ones: Tilda Swinton's examining magistrate isn't one of her finer hours, Jeremy Northam's unlikely French Army colonel meanders through the film with a bemused smirk, while Charlotte Rampling play's Caine's chambermaid ex-wife wiv a bit orra Saff Lundin accent that makes you wonder if she really has been living in France all those years. Only Edward Petherbridge, Frank Finlay and Alan Bates manage to come away with their honour intact. There's an interesting idea for a film in here, with Moore's recurring themes of the conflict between the desire for salvation constantly undermined by the harsh realities of the world still visible through the cracks, and there's a nice rationale behind the 'Jewish commando' group trying to kill him, but the result just looks like glossy Sunday evening television despite Jewison's visually assured direction.
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