FILM PREVIEW – The Debt (due to be released on DVD Jan 23rd)
GUEST REPORTER: Nathaniel Collins
When the film execs of Hollywood get their hands on a low budget but otherwise successful foreign film, the result can range from the fantastic (The Departed), to the confused (The Ring) to the outrageously blasphemous (too many to list but Arthur rings a recent and unfortunate bell).
The Debt, which tells the tale of three Mossad agents forced to revisit an uncomfortable past, is a remake of a 2007 Israeli film of the same title that for the most part delivers or at least doesn’t leave the purists angry.
Strong acting performances, in particular from Jesper Christensen as the maniacal ‘surgeon of Birkenau’, and a script that stayed broadly loyal to the original (predictable embellishment of romance aside) are the chief reasons for this successful adaptation. The significant twist in the film remained well concealed to the viewer and the suspense created through the pressures of operational and personal secrecy is grippingly conveyed.
The plot revolves around two periods in history: East Berlin in 1965, where the Israeli agents are tasked with the covert capture of a war criminal dubbed ‘the surgeon of Birkenau’ to face trial through the International courts, and 1997 where the same characters are dealing with the recriminations of the actions taken and decisions made in the earlier period. The story that unfolds takes the viewer through tense scenes of Cold War espionage and shows the lasting emotional impact from the stark choices made in that pressured, unforgiving environment.
I watched The Debt with an audience of four. The prevailing view was that this films nestles somewhere between the ‘actively recommend the film to friends’ to the more conservative ‘general thumbs up if I saw someone I knew pick the film off the shelf’. My thoughts are that The Debt has pulled off a rare winner in the world of film through the eyes of Hollywood. Those feeling permanently scarred by Get Carter, Quarantine (Rec), and Solaris should cast their justified aspersions aside and give the old red white and blue tinted glasses one more go.