10 June 2022.
OPERATION MINCEMEAT (La Ruse) **1/2
This film by John Madden, best known for the Oscar-winning “Shakespeare in Love” and the “Marigold Hotel” films, is based on the actual WWII disinformation operation that the British mounted to be able to invade Europe through Sicily in 1943 without jeapordizing thousands of soldiers’ lives.
It is certainly informative and well-acted by Colin Firth and Matthew Macfadyen as the two intelligence officers who came up with the intriguing plan to fool the Nazis into thinking the Allies would be attacking Greece rather than Italy, but the scenario becomes too convoluted with the ins-and-outs of the deception, the counter-lies, the made-up corpse with the crucial documents, and multiple double agents.
The inclusion of a love interest and the jealousies and doubts between the two men to try to humanize the technicalities of the operation only takes away from the importance of the situation. There is an interesting addition of Ian Fleming’s character among the select officers, whether true or not, but this film, however interesting, cannot compare to the intensity and power of the superb “Imitation Game”, which had a similar WWII espionage and code-cracking theme.
TOM MEDINA **1/2 (vo French)
French director Tony Gatlif, born in Algeria of a Kabyle father and a Roma (or Gypsy) mother, has been making films about the Roma people, their passions and their music over the past decades. As with this latest film, he has been a regular at the Cannes film festival and won the director’s award there in 2004 for his film EXILS, starring Romain Duris.
He continues in the same vein here about Tom Medina, an enigmatic, tempestuous young delinquent (a charismatic David Murgia) who has been sent on probation to a ranch in the rugged, swamp-like Camargue region of southern France, abounding with horses and bulls. Medina’s impulsive character is revealed in the first shots of the film when, as a spectator, he jumps into a bullfighting ring to taunt the bulls as though he was the star toreador.
On the ranch, he becomes close to the wizened owner who is patient with him, trying to set him straight. But his impetuous personality keeps getting in the way, as he begins to see visions of magical bulls and often shirks his responsibilities. Meeting a fragile young girl who is an environmental activist may bring him around but his inner demons and feelings of homelessness keep haunting him. Like its character, the film goes all over the place, and is actually inspired by Gatlif’s own beginnings when he landed in France, with the mood and surroundings as authentic as a self portrait can be.
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Neptune Ravar Ingwersen reviews film extensively for publications in Switzerland. She views 4 to 8 films a week and her aim is to sort the wheat from the chaff for readers.