Monday, September 12, 2011

The Debt

Directed by John Madden, Marv Films, 2010/2011. Starring Helen Mirren, Jessica Chastain, Sam Worthington, and Tom Wilkinson.

Genre: Drama, Thriller

Question: When you think of heroines in film - which characters do you think of first? Ripley from Aliens, Clarice from Silence of the Lambs and Sarah Connor from The Terminator are probably the first that jump to mind, right? How about about a 66 year old women? Well, Helen Mirren (and the women who played her character at age 25) just kicked some Nazi-ass in The Debt and it was awesome!

I am not one of the overly feminist gals, trust me. I am all for equality but don't think we are the superior race. However, when I witnessed what the character Helen Mirren (present day) and Jessica Chastain (past) did in The Debt - I felt proud to be a woman.

One of my all time favorite leading ladies is Dame Helen Mirren. She is beautiful, classic, sophisticated and now a down-right bad-ass! I was not expecting it in this movie but got it. Yes, I saw her in Red - which I sort of enjoyed, but her character in that is a wimp compared to one in The Debt.

The story is about three undercover Mossad agents in the mid-60's who are sent to East Berlin; and their mission is to find, capture and bring back a Nazi war criminal living in secret there. The story goes back and forth from 1997 to 1966 with showing the three agents and how what happened in the 1960's haunted them to their present. The agents were played by Helen Mirren/Jessica Chastain, Tom Wilkinson/Marton Csokas and Ciaran Hinds/Sam Worthington.

Let's talk about the younger cast first: Ciaran Hinds did a great job playing the commander of the trio. He proved it well that his character was ambitious and would go far up the ranks. Sam Worthington seemed a little out of his element, acting-wise, particularly with his accent. It sometime sounded like a South-African or his native Australian accent and not the Israeli it should have been.  However, there was one moment of vulnerability where he had me believing that his character had something horrible happen in his past that affected him deeply.

However, of the three young agents Jessica Chastain was the best - by far. The level of emotions were portrayed beautifully. Her character had to be in the closest vicinity to the "target". Let me tell you, as a woman, there were three scenes during her mission, that only we could know how her task was truly horrific. Calling it brave would be an understatement. It brought me chills.

Present day characters: Tom Wilkinson and Ciaran Hinds were both good. My only complaint is that Sam Worthington and Ciaran Hinds looked nothing alike. Things like that bother me but it was so minor it's not worth harping on.

Anyway, let's now discuss Helen Mirren. She was tough, truthful and willing to fight for what she believes in even though it goes against what she was asked to do. She played it beautifully and I would love to tell you more but I won't. Except to say it was refreshing to witness her conviction. It is hard to go against the grain, especially being a women, but what's harder is allowing a facade to continue even though everyone puts you high on that pedestal because of it. And no matter how tough those aforementioned heroines were, Helen Mirren is now in my top 5 favorites because of this movie.

My favorite part: The end - NO! I am not going to tell you why?

My least favorite part: Sorry to say but it is Sam Worthington - he had a moment but I believe was miscast.

Rating: R
Length: 114 minutes

Review: 6 out of 10

Click on film poster to watch US or Foreign version instantly:

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