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Review | An Officer and a Spy

An Officer and the Spy (J'accuse) in Roman Polanski (O Pianista, 2002) arrives in Brazilian cinemas after his great world premiere in Venice International Film Festival, having won the Grand Jury Prize, awarded to the second most prominent film of the event.

Based on the real history of Alfred Dreyfus, the plot features the Captain and Artillery Officer of the French army, of Jewish origin, who was accused and convicted in 1894 as a traitor, then being degraded from the army and exiled to the Devil's Island. Polanski retraces the trajectory of Lieutenant Colonel Georges Picquart, from the day of execution of Dreyfus's sentence until 1899, when Dreyfus is amnestied and leaves prison, even though he is still found guilty.

Crítica | O Oficial e o Espião 1
The Officer and the Spy | California Movies | Georges Picquart (Jean Dujardin)

Based on the book An Officer and a Spy (The Officer and the Spy, without translation into Portuguese), by the British journalist Robert Harris, who signs the script with Polanski and the article by Émile Zola J'accuse (I accuse), the feature set during the Third French Republic portrays the Dreyfus case in a unique way.

With an unstable social climate, Dreyfus (Louis Garrel) is convicted of high treason and Georges Picquart (Jean Dujardin) takes over the intelligence service department, which needs to be organized after its predecessor neglected him because he was ill. During his working days he notes that the information leaks have not stopped since Dreyfus's conviction and decides to investigate further.

Louis Garrel and Jean Dujardin are exceptional and with a similarity that impresses, the characterization gives the impression of seeing the characters just out of a photograph. With more than two hours in duration, the script at its constant pace does not let the feature become tiring, but it causes the viewer to be anxious to know when the farces will be revealed, leaving even a bitter taste in the end. The portrait of how anti-Semitism, also present and growing after Dreyfus's conviction, leaves an important mark to understand the historical period of the film.

Crítica | O Oficial e o Espião 2
The Officer and the Spy | California Movies | Georges Picquart (Jean Dujardin)

Roman Polanski

In November 2019, one week before the French premiere of the feature, a new rape complaint came against Polanski, this time coming from Monnier, actress and former model, who claims to have been raped at the age of 18 in a chalet in Gstaad, Switzerland. Polanski pleads not guilty to this charge.

However, the debut was marked by protests and a boycott of the director, who was expelled by the Academy of Arts and Cinematographic Sciences, responsible for the Oscars, in 2018. Already convicted in the United States for the sexual abuse of Samantha Geimer, aged 13 at the time, and is prevented from returning to the country for having an arrest warrant.

Roman Polanski
Roman Polanski

In Brazil, the film hits theaters on March 12.

Thunder Wave note
With an impressive setting and characterization, Polanski's new work portrays the Dreyfus Case, which took place in France, in a dynamic and direct way.


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