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Farewell (L'affaire Farewell) (2009)

tomatometer

82

Average Rating: 7/10
Critic Reviews: 22
Fresh: 18 | Rotten: 4

No consensus yet.

audience

76

liked it
Average Rating: 3.6/5
User Ratings: 4,867

My Rating

Movie Info

An espionage agent begins working against his own country for the good of the world in this drama based on a true story. Sergei Grigoriev (Emir Kusturica) is a Soviet intelligence operative who has become deeply disillusioned with life under Communism -- while he believes in the ideals the U.S.S.R. was founded upon, he feels they have been become hopelessly compromised by their current leadership, and that the old government must be brought down for the sake of future generations. With this in

Apr 12, 2011

$0.3M

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All Critics (76) | Top Critics (23) | Fresh (64) | Rotten (11)

Well-acted but plodding...

April 27, 2011 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The movie earns its tension and suspense the old-fashioned way: By making you care about its characters, who live in a recognizably real world...

September 10, 2010 Full Review Source: Miami Herald
Miami Herald
Top Critic IconTop Critic

In the high-noon finale, the personal and the political have an effectively tense showdown, with the double-crosses and getaways we expect from a good espionage flick.

August 27, 2010 Full Review Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A smart and suspenseful thriller, but one that's grounded in the reality of the world we all live in -- whether we're spies or engineers.

August 19, 2010 Full Review Source: Philadelphia Inquirer
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Carion might have found a more artful way to dramatize the case's geopolitical impact, but this is still pretty interesting stuff.

August 13, 2010 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This cool, understated French thriller might just become one of the best film-based excuses to escape the swelter of summer.

August 13, 2010 Full Review Source: Dallas Morning News
Dallas Morning News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Authentic tension and characters make for a refreshingly humanistic take on spies and espionage.

November 11, 2013 Full Review Source: We Got This Covered
We Got This Covered

Keeping the story focused on the personal sacrifices of the two men involved [is] a smart strategy because it makes their secret correspondence even more fraught with danger.

June 5, 2011 Full Review Source: Scene-Stealers.com
Scene-Stealers.com

Carion's film admirably resists overselling the material: it's an adult espionage film, with no comic-book theatrics. [Blu-ray]

May 27, 2011 Full Review Source: Groucho Reviews
Groucho Reviews

Directed by Christian Caron, Farewell is full of great cinematic moments...

May 27, 2011 Full Review Source: Birmingham Mail
Birmingham Mail

This witty and gripping thriller is really worth a look.

May 26, 2011 Full Review Source: Birmingham Post
Birmingham Post

... a history lesson that's occasionally monotone, but has moments of narrative depth and color.

May 8, 2011 Full Review Source: Filmcritic.com
Filmcritic.com

Fascinating little-known spy story.

May 4, 2011 Full Review Source: FilmsInReview.com
FilmsInReview.com

An intriguingly low-key Cold War thriller.

May 2, 2011 Full Review Source: Scotsman

It is a richly intriguing tale about high intrigue, though at times a trifle uncertain...

May 1, 2011 Full Review Source: Guardian [UK]
Guardian [UK]

The story of friendship and sacrifice is told in an unfussy, old-fashioned manner but director Christian Carion creates some tense moments and secures game performances...

April 29, 2011 Full Review Source: Daily Express
Daily Express

This is a satisfyingly sober thriller, almost melancholy in tone - and as morally complex as a John Le Carré novel.

April 28, 2011 Full Review Source: Guardian [UK]
Guardian [UK]

It's a compelling story of how one disillusioned idealist helped change the world - and all for a Sony Walkman and some Queen cassettes!

April 28, 2011 Full Review Source: Radio Times
Radio Times

The tale of a truly fascinating but little-known espionage operation is told with panache and a dynamic central pairing.

April 28, 2011 Full Review Source: Little White Lies
Little White Lies

Makes for a more original thriller than most, with the saving graces of irony and humour.

April 28, 2011 Full Review Source: This is London
This is London

Impressively directed and superbly written, this is a fascinating and gripping story that packs a powerful emotional punch, thanks to a pair of terrific central performances from Guillaume Canet and Emir Kusturica.

April 28, 2011 Full Review Source: ViewLondon
ViewLondon

A French thriller based on fact...

April 27, 2011 Full Review Source: Financial Times
Financial Times

Slightly underpowered as an espionage thriller, this is nonetheless a fascinating story told with real panache.

April 26, 2011 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

Carion delivers a tight, tense and tragic package of the personal and political entwined, with Kusturica's huge presence at its soul.

April 26, 2011 Full Review Source: Total Film
Total Film

It loiters somewhere within the void of movie limbo, destined to be lost amongst all the other films where an interesting idea failed to translate onto the big screen.

October 22, 2010 Full Review Source: Moviedex
Moviedex

Audience Reviews for Farewell (L'affaire Farewell)

Serguei Kostine's book 'Bonjour Farewell' serves as the source of the historical moments of one of the most important fractures in the Cold War in 1981 - the act of valor of Sergei Gregoriev - and the script for this very important and controversial film was written by Eric Reynaud and Christian Carion who also directed this stunning film (he is best remembered for his brilliant 'Joyeux Noël' which incidentally starred many of the actors in this film). It is a disturbing movie to watch, a film that was condemned by the Russian government, disallowing filming in Moscow - except for some undercover camera work for an apparent Coca-Cola commercial, and refusing to allow Russian actors to take part in the project. It reveals the brutality of the Communist regime of the time, a period Russia would prefer to remain occult

The story is somewhat convoluted, a fact that makes it even more revealing of the nature of espionage work at the time. Sergei Gregoriev (Emir Kusturica) passes secret documents to French spy Pierre Froment (Guillaume Canet) living in Moscow with his wife (Alexandra Maria Lara), documents so important that Froment must take extraordinary risks to pass them to the US Government. In the US President Reagan (Fred Ward) must balance the importance of these documents with the balance of relationships with the French government under François Mitterrand (Philippe Magnan) it is a tense struggle for power and at the crux of it is Froment and the ultimately captured Gregoriev who is tortured to reveal his French espionage contact. The rush to finish at the end of the film is breathtaking and heartbreaking. There is a conversation between Froment and the US Feeney (Willem Dafoe) that places the soul of the Cold War years in perspective.

Every aspect of this film is involving - the acting is first rate from everyone involved, the pacing is in the fashion edge of the seat direction, and the sharing of the innermost secrets of espionage is information we all should study. A reenactment of the Reagan/Gorbachev era as well defined as any film has dared to show us. Not only is this excellent filmmaking, but it is also information about a man's (Sergei Gregoriev) sacrifice that deserve honor. 4 1/2 stars 3-10-13
March 11, 2013
bbcfloridabound
Bruce Bruce

Super Reviewer

Modern take on the cold war spy thriller genre. Works really thanks to the odd-ball couple of Emir Kusturica and Guillaume Canet, plus the director has penchant for writing sentimental stories about engineers. Apparently this true story is so sensitive that no Russians were allowed to perform and the film makers weren't allowed to film in Russia!
May 12, 2011
RossCollinsUK

Super Reviewer

I guess, if you're into this sort of thing, it could be called a good movie. I don't have much to say about this one. It's...subtle? I was just proud that I recognized Emir Kusturica in something else at some point, and it was because of this film!
April 30, 2011
jennifxu

Super Reviewer

"Farewell" starts in 1981 Moscow where Pierre Froment(Guillaume Canet) steps away from his daughter's dance recital because he says he accidentally left his car door open. Which he did. On purpose, for Sergei Gregoriev(Emir Kusturica) who is none too pleased with the amateur theatrics when he is serious about handing over secrets to the West. Well, Vallier(Niels Arestrup) of the DST kind of likes the amateur status of Froment, thank you for asking, since the KGB will never be looking in his direction. The next meeting goes much better with the KGB Colonel handing the French businessman classified documents which get passed on to Vallier. Newly elected French President Mitterand(Philippe Magnan) then uses the valuable information to placate Reagan(Fred Ward) when he complains about stinkin' Commies in his cabinet.

Inspired by a true story, "Farewell" succeeds with no little help from an eclectic cast(David Soul? Really? Seriously?) to build a compelling story on personal and historical levels by not laying it on too thick(a little obviously, maybe, with an ending that's drawn out) in its international game of give and take. The history proposed here is much more believable than anything involving a rogue Congressman from Texas, even as some may be choking on their French fries when credit is given to the French. Plus, the period music actually made me feel nostalgic for a change.

All of which is only possible through trust, albeit sometimes misplaced. That leads into a tale of friendship and a different kind of hero.(I like how the movie references "The Man who Shot Liberty Valance" by turning it on its head.) To be honest, I did not like Gregoriev to start because he sounds like a fanatic in his call for a need for change away from the stagnation of the Brezhnev era but quickly warmed up to him.(Now, I supposed one could play the Stalin card when bringing up Soviet Communism which I would then trump with the Khruschev card with his bringing the Soviet Union kicking and screaming out into the bright light of the day.) Even at Froment's urging, Gregoriev cannot leave his homeland, as he could never return which would force him into a life of permanent exile, yelling himself hoarse at ballparks. Now, all we have to figure out is how to peacefully remove Putin from office.
April 20, 2012
Harlequin68
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

  • L'affaire farewell (FR)
  • El caso Farewell (ES)
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