Official Secrets is a docudrama film, based around the life of whistle-blower Katherine Gunn, (Keira Knightly). The plot follows Katherine as she leaks secret government documents in an effort to stop the invasion of Iraq, and the after-effects following that decision.
Official secrets makes you question a lot of things, your ability to see right and wrong, your love of country, the very nature of whether all truths should be made public knowledge. The answers it gives aren’t good; they’re if anything troubling. This film shows that sometimes you need to take a stand and do what you think is right even if it puts you and your loved ones in danger; even if it makes you a traitor to your country.
The film and Knightly’s performance do a great job of investing you in Gunn’s journey; you root for her in this seemingly hopeless situation. There is even one incredibly well-crafted sequence that uses the tension of unannounced deportation so masterfully you can’t tear your eyes away.
What’s more, the film acts as a commentary on the state of the modern world, where governments can no longer be trusted and actively hold back the truth from the public, whether for good or, ill reasons. This film is significant as it shows how one person can stand up to a seemingly colossal institution and come out on top in the end.
Knightly’s performance isn’t the only excellent bit of acting on display in Official Secrets, as it also features a who’s who of famous British actors. Everyone from Matt Smith, of The Crown and Doctor Who fame, to Rhys Ifans and Ralph Fiennes bring something to the table; adding to the talent on hand. The performances of all four of these actors are great, but Smith and Ifans are the ones who stood out to me. Smith’s Martin Bright brings some levity to what is otherwise a very dark film, and he is also very likeable and a well-deserving secondary protagonist. Ifans’ Ed Vulliamy steals the scenes he is in, bringing a presence and charm that is hard to forget.
Overall the film is very timely and relevant, with the likes of Julian Assange and Edward Snowden, sometimes other lesser-known whistle-blowers slip through the cracks. So it is essential to watch this film and realise what Gunn sacrificed for us all, she stood up and tried to stop something she thought was wrong, and that is commendable and something we all should do in this modern world.
This is an important film made all the stronger by an engaging narrative and superb acting throughout. Very much a must-see.
Review by Luke
Ps. Remember,” The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”.