- Colin Fraser
THREE AND A HALF STARS When Mathieu is arrested by Russian authorities, he does what it takes to escape and return to the West.
THRILLER FRANCE French #KOMPROMAT
Starring Gilles Lellouche, Joanna Kulig
If Liam Neeson made action films in France, this is the kind of film he’d make. You know how it goes; a middle aged man gets caught in a plot that imperils his daughter and involves lots of yelling and running while men with guns yell louder and run faster. So it is with KOMPROMAT, a highly-caffeinated yarn loosely (and I can’t stress how loose) based on true ‘events’ in which a middle aged man does what it takes to protect his daughter when he gets caught on the wrong side of Russian authorities.
Mathieu (Gilles Lellouche - FAREWELL, MR HAFFMANN) is the director of a French cultural centre in Irkutsk until he finds himself facing the pointy end of Russia’s FSB. He hosted an edgy dance performance that was a little too challenging for its conservative audience and before you can say ‘homophobia’ he’s been thrown in jail on trumped up charges of paedophilia and child abuse. His family flees to safety while Mathieu flees house arrest, hides in an embassy, hides in a car, hides in a farm, hides in snowy mountains and makes his way to the West, to his daughter and to freedom. There’s lots of yelling and running.
While it’s all rather improbable in that super-charged kind of way, it’s equally captivating for the same reasons. Lellouche is well cast - he’s never anything more than a well educated Dad acting on instinct in an impossible situation. Even the inevitable love interest (Joanna Kulig) who helps him regain his freedom is kept at a tantalisingly chaste distance.
The story doesn’t bare close inspection, but the point of KOMPROMAT isn’t about having a deep and meaningful on the state of east-west relationships nor the art of compromise in the age of Putin. It’s a vehicle to watch a good guy pit his wits against the bad guys while yelling and running. And in that regard, it’s a complete success.