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Overall Rating

Awesome: 7.69%
Worth A Look: 11.54%
Average: 7.69%
Pretty Bad69.23%
Total Crap: 3.85%

3 reviews, 8 user ratings

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Statement, The
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by Jason Whyte

"Like a history lesson without the enjoyable filmmaking...part."
2 stars

The subject we can clearly see, and the message is clear, but there's no feeling, no emotion. "The Statement," the latest Canadian film from Norman Jewison, is a "message" movie that we don't really need, with mostly exposition and documenting taking seat over actual emotion and interesting filmmaking. Sure, the film is serviceably acted by the likes of Michael Caine, Tilda Swinton and Jeremy Northam, but that says something when all I can muster up in praise is "serviceably acted."

"The Statement" opens on some blandly shot black-and-white footage of a Nazi Collaborator, Brossard (Michael Caine), whom, during World War II, ordered the killing of seven french jews. After the war is over, he escapes into exile in France (mostly by way of hiding within the Catholic Church) and remains hidden all the way until 1992, when word of his whereabouts gets out. A "Statement" is typed up to be planted on his dead corpse, basically detailing that he is guilty of crimes against humanity and the dead have been avenged.

Brossard is eventually tracked to a bar in a small village by an unknown Canadian (Matt Craven) who most likely a family tie to one of the slain, and is swifty killed by Brossard because he's probably seen too many movies: if there's a guy looking like he's following you, his car really isn't broken down atop that french road, and he isn't asking for help. This killing attracts the attention of Judge Levy (Tilda Swinton) and her aide, Roux (Jeremy Northam), who are itchy to find the possibly-escaping-or-the-target-of-war-crusaders Brossard.

Sounds like a potboiler, no? "The Statement" is too weighed down in exposition of the history of all the goings-on here, and Caine, whose superb characterization and endlessly discussed acting skills get things off to a good start, simply isn't good enough for all of the characters seeming to exist to spout off dialogue that only forwards the plot along. What "The Statement" needs is interesting characters and motivation to make us understand and be consumed in the story.

One particular example is Tilda Swinton's character, Levy. Despite her cold attitude and get-what-she-wants ethic, EVERYONE here in the film seems to be flat-out in love with with her. While not explained fully, a few characters seem to be very wanting to rub up and smooch with this porcelain goddess. And yet the events and heavy "okay, here's what's happening" chit-chat don't support the flirtations. I will say, however, that Swinton has been one of my favorite actresses going now, from her wonderful parts in "The Deep End", "The War Zone" and "Adaptation", and her work here wouldn't join that list, but she does what she can. The same can be said for Jeremy Northam, who would make uite an interesting James Bond, if someone would be willing enough to give him a Walther PP7.

And yet by the end of it, after we're constantly reminded that these seven french jews were killed by this Nazi Collaborator by that goofy black-and-white footage (complete with Caine badly dubbing an actor playing his younger self), I just didn't care. My heart goes out to all of the many people that died in the holocaust and in WWII, but this film does nothing to arouse my sympathy.

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originally posted: 01/12/04 18:26:23
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User Comments

12/28/04 efrain really interesting. 4 stars
8/09/04 Helen Bradley Caine as always the brilliant actor a must see movie 5 stars
7/30/04 Richard Johnson I had to come to your site to try and figure out what entirely was going on. Still not sure 3 stars
3/17/04 Jack Gillick Caine is magnificent only for an educated audience a 10 5 stars
3/09/04 lina i thought it was very good.. shot in beautiful locations.. 4 stars
1/27/04 Greg Typical pro-semitic crap trying to villify the Catholic church. 1 stars
1/19/04 Bob Thompson Good drama, wonderful scenes, well acted 4 stars
1/15/04 Betty White Rampling and Caine are solid in this rather limp Jewison thriller. 3 stars
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  12-Dec-2003 (R)
  DVD: 27-Apr-2004


  20-May-2004 (M)

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