Film & TV

British Film Festival Review: Offical Secrets

A thrilling political drama from director Gavin Hood, based on the true story of whistleblower, Katherine Gun.

Official Secrets is a gripping political thriller with a stirring performance from Keira Knightley.

Knightley stars as Katharine Gun, a Mandarin translator working for the United Kingdom’s GCHQ in 2003. After receiving an email from the NSA, requesting information on UN representatives to be used to blackmail them into voting for the invasion of Iraq, Gun was horrified and heroically tried to prevent the illegal war. She passed the information to an anti-war friend, who then proceeded to hand it over to the journalist Martin Bright (Matt Smith) at the Observer.

After the Observer publishes the story, the consequences of Gun’s decision come crashing down when she was arrested and charged with violating the Official Secrets Act.

Director Gavin Hood, who seems to have found his stride directing heart-stopping thrillers with heavy political themes with 2015’s incredible Eye in the Sky and now this film, gives the remarkable story the respect it deserves. The script, written by Hood with Gregory Bernstein and Sarah Bernstein, celebrates Gun’s bravery and never lets you forget how much she was risking by turning against her lying government. The film’s most harrowing moment is when the government tries to deport at her husband Yasar (Adam Bakri), a Kurdish refugee who came to England seeking asylum.

Whilst the entire cast is stellar, the film belongs to Keira Knightley, who delivers one of the best performances of her career.

The story of Katharine Gun is an inspirational story of heroism, but it is hard not to leave the film angry and bitter, because while Gun was punished for telling the truth, the politicians who lied their countries into an illegal war were never held accountable.

Reviewed by Jordan Ellis

Official Secrets currently screens as part of the MINI British Film Festival at PalaceNova Eastend and Prospect, which runs until November 24th.

Click here for screening times.

RIVETING 4 stars

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