Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

The Statement (second review)


Michael Caine, Tilda Swinton and Jeremy Northam star. Supporting are Charlotte Rampling, Alan Bates, and Frank Finlay. Norman Jewison directed a script from the great Ronald Harwood. What could go wrong?

It’s hard to put my finger exactly on it, but part of it was that I didn’t really care that much. Caine is a Frenchman who collaborated with the fucking Nazis during the occupation. He fingered seven Jews who were then put up against a wall and shot. He got a very fishy presidential pardon for his deeds. In the intervening years he has been sheltered and enabled, and to some extent even admired by a group called the Chevaliers, an extreme right-wing sect within the Catholic church. But the pressure is on him again, after he kills someone we are led to believe is a Jew, a part of a vengeance squad cleaning up the last remaining scum. Now his friends have to turn away from him.

And scum he most definitely is. A super-devout Catholic, he believes (along with the whole church) that once his sin is absolved, it’s over. It’s done with. So why are you tormenting me? He is detestable in every way, a coward, a murderer, willing to do almost anything to stay alive. (He threatens his wife’s dog, if you can believe such depths of depravity. Later he kicks the pooch.)

But again, I just didn’t really care about the manhunt. It turns out (SPOILER ALERT) that the killers after him are not Jews, but people trying to protect at least one man high up in the government who was also a part of the Vichy lickspittles. And the ending, where it is implied that the government man is going to get his just deserts, feels tacked on and very dishonest.