Jewison's Unabashed Bashing

Saw The Statement last night. A very tidy fictional account of a Nazi collaborator during the Vichy France regime coming to justice five decades after the fact. The premise: Brossard (Michael Caine) is being hunted by a Jewish group avenging his execution of seven innocent jews during the second world war. The movie is based on the book of the same name by Brian Moore.

In the course of the movie, we learn that Brossard has been haunted by the incident for the past fifty years, and has been living in fear and hiding. He was supported financially and given sanctuary by the mysterious Chevaliers de Ste Marie, an order of the Catholic Church. He was also helped along by various members of the French police. Now sought on charges of crimes against humanity and pursued by contract killers, Brossard's supports crumble from beneath him. Tilda Swinton plays the leggy, impulsive judge out for justice, whose character coincidentally shares a surname with one of Brossard's victims. She is assisted by an army colonel charmingly played by Jeremy Northam, as the police cannot be trusted.

In the end, a desperate, remorseful and panic-stricken Brossard is gunned down. The avenging Jewish organization is revealed to be a sham created by police officials covering their tracks. They, too, are exposed. Justice is served with minimal intervention of the law. The Catholic Church is tarred as well. Jewish people in the film are either victims of the war crime or pursuers in high office, but none of them muss their coattails in the gutter with the Nazis, Vichy collaborators, French police, or the prototypical anti-semites, the Catholic Church. Hm. Pretty tidy.

Michael Caine is great in this film. Through much of it, he is a snivelling and hysterical fugitive. But there are moments of quiet cruelty that reveal the essence of the man. I was not sorry when he died, except for regretting that I had sat through such a slanted and retaliatory film. It is as if Jewison is saying, "Let us not forget that six decades ago, the Nazis were not the only culprits. Here are a bunch of other people we should blame and never forgive." How healthy and constructive that must be for the Jewish community.


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