19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
The Idealism and Perils of Spilling Secrets in the Last Decade of the Cold War.,
This review is from: Farewell (DVD)
"Farewell" (L'affaire Farewell) is a Cold War espionage thriller inspired by the real-life case of Vladmir Vetrov, a KGB officer who, in the 1980s, gave the French domestic intelligence agency DST the names of KGB agents in the West who were involved in industrial and technological espionage. While there are obvious similarities in Vetrov's story and that of the characters in the film (e.g. Vetrov passed information through a French engineer of his acquaintance), Vetrov was a good deal more careless, and drunk, than his likeness in the film, which was a fatal flaw. Director Christian Carion adapted the screenplay from Serguei Kostine's nonfiction book "Bonjour Farewell: La verité de la taupe française du KGB."
In 1981, a French engineer working in Moscow, Pierre Froment (Guillaume Canet), gets deeper into the espionage business than he intended when a favor for the French security agency DST puts him in contact with a high-ranking KGB officer who wants to pass secrets. Col. Sergei Grigoriev (Emir Kusturica) thinks the Soviet Union needs a new revolution and that it will only have one if the supply of pilfered technology from the West is cut off. He intends to expose the network of Soviet spies called Line X. Pierre is uneasy in his role but can't bring himself to quit. French President Mitterand (Phillipe Magnan) receives regular reports on the project, as does US President Ronald Reagan (Fred Ward), who is surprised to learn that the US space and air defense programs were an open book.
Most of "Farewell" takes place in Moscow in the early to mid-1980s. The period detail is interesting in itself. It's a character drama with tension but without suspense until the final act. Pierre Froment is an anxious man, Grigoriev a disillusioned dreamer. "I can change the world," he says. Maybe he could. Vladamir Vetrov cut off the Soviet Union's supply of new technologies just as the empire was buckling under financial pressures, hastening the USSR's demise. But "Farewell" is mostly quiet, carried by the performances of Kusturica and Canet. Pierre is an everyman, while Grigoriev is a sympathetic, if flawed, hero. There is a lot to like in this trip back to the Cold War. In French and Russian with English subtitles that cannot be turned off. The DVD (Neoclassics Films 2011) includes a US theatrical trailer (2 min) and a Photo Gallery of behind-the-scenes and production stills.