Thursday, September 29, 2011

Film Review: "The Debt" (2010)

"The Debt" (2010, released 2011, English, 113 min) is one of the most gripping films of the past decade, well worthy of an Oscar consideration for its adapted screenplay, as well as additional considerations for three sophisticated performances by Helen Mirren, the beautiful Jessica Chastain, and the intimate Sam Worthington, cinematography, directing & edit, not to mention a very effective score by Thomas Newman, who's once more succeeded in reinventing his sound world. This is an artful film without a dull moment, one with an relentless suspense which has grown out of the necessities of its narrative, and the lives of its characters and their complicated pasts.

The film follows the intense emotional world of three specially gifted Mossad agents, and survivors of the Holocaust, tormented for decades over a lie they once agreed to live. By allowing its characters to express their pains, hopes and desires, the story surpasses a basic narrative of revenge, bringing out their humanity, three people, who seek not vengeance by justice, who struggle to the end not to become the very abhorrent beast whom they've pursued. The attempt at understanding the mindset of the characters has helped the film exceed the ethnic or political boundaries of the protagonists, and explore and relate to broader aspects of human condition.

I have not yet seen the original Hebrew version of the film, but to my recollection, "The Debt" is one of the finest adapted or original thrillers of the past few years, and next to "Munich" (dir. Steven Spielberg, 2005) and "Walk On Water" (dir. Eytan Fox, 2004, Hebrew), one of the three best revisionist films about Israel at large, and its much talked about secretive agency, in particular.

‎"The Debt" (2010, English, German, 113 mins.)
Directed by John Madden, based on Assaf Bernstein's 2007 film in Hebrew, "Ha-Hov"
Music by: Thomas Newman
Cast includes: Helen Mirren, Tom Wilkinson, Ciaran Hinds, Jessica Chastain, et al.

© 2011, Payman Akhlaghi. All rights reserved.
(*) This review first appeared on Payman's Facebook page.

(*) Payman Akhlaghi is a Los Angeles-based composer, pianist, and piano teacher, covering the greater Los Angeles area. His repertoire includes classical, as well as Persian music. Payman holds an MA and a BA degree in Composition from UCLA. He's currently working on his dissertation toward degree of PhD in Composition. You may contact him by calling (310) 208-2927 [USA].

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