Film Review: FAREWELL

Directed by Christian Carion
Written by Eric Raymaud and Carion
Starring Emir Kusturica, Guillaume Canet, Maria Lara, Willem Dafoe, Igeborga Dapkuaite, Evegenia Kharlanov, Fred Ward
Running time 113 minutes
Released, August 2010

In general, I have trouble following the sequence of events in most spy movies. Most assume you know the lingo and the drill. I don’t. I think I missed a lesson on how operatives functioned back during the Cold War. I realize Burn Notice offers tips on the spy game every week, but I tend to drift off, looking at the Miami skyline instead of the guy with the gun beneath it. But this was one movie I could follow, despite or maybe because of the subtitles, and one I greatly enjoyed. I’ll tell you why in a minute.

PLOT: Based on a true story, FAREWELL takes place in 1981. A Russian agent (played to mesmerizing affect by Serbian filmmaker Emir Kusturica) decides that Communism has failed as a system and he’s going to topple it before more harm is done. He has his son’s future in mind more than his own. A bit of a Francophile after a few years spent in Paris in the sixties, Gregoriev approaches a French businessman, Pierre Froment, (played by French film maker, Guillaume Canet), who, very reluctantly, agrees to carry information to the West. This is not run-of-the mill information; this is information that reveals exactly what the Russians know about the U.S: things like how the White House operates, where bases are located and their key structures, how Air FORCE is configured, where double agents are in place. The entire infrastructure of information the Cold War has rested on for thirty years. And apparently, the Russians have invested a huge amount of money in assembling this dossier.

With Pierre Froment, the Russian agent has chosen someone so completely naïve and out of the loop that he is beyond suspicion and the information makes its way to President Mitterand and eventually to President Reagan (Fred Ward) in Washington, first alarming them but eventually giving them the upper hand.

What made this story really zing for me was how much emphasis was placed on what this mission cost these men and their families. This film was more an exploration of family life than many films that purport to be just that. At the same time, it was excruciatingly exciting. My clenched jaws ached by the end. After watching two directors play these very demanding parts, I am all for recruiting more directors onto the screen. They brought more depth to their parts than a good many current actors do. Highly recommended.

Patti Abbott writes crime fiction short stories. She hosts a look at Forgotten Books every Friday with readers, writers and reviewers at She hopes you’ll join in.