Wednesday, 10 January 2018

No.133 : The Statement

He makes a lot of Definite Article  movies does Michael Caine and we thank him for that. Still we’ve yet to see ‘The Magus’!

This one opens with some captions to set the scene - it’s 1944 and the Nazis are occupying France with the help of the Vichy government. We cut to some scenes shot in black and white, which is no doubt helpful to people who can’t distinguish between the past and the present day. Anyway a young Frenchmen is helping the Germans round up some Jews who are then shot. This young man sounds like Michael Caine which is helpful as he doesn’t look anything like him. I quite liked this technique - at least it was different to the usual fade into the older version of the character ploy.

We then move to colour as someone types out ‘The Statement’ - a document naming Caine’s character and the reasons why he has been executed by some Jewish revenge seekers. If you doubted their motivation they have went the extra mile by getting a large STATEMENT stamp made which is used to emboss the document in bright red ink. The trick is how to get the document onto Caine’s dead body as the old boy is still kicking - and kicking hard.

We first meet him at a pavement café enjoying a beer. His idyllic lifestyle is soon to hit a few bumps however, as a man with a photo of Caine is eyeing him up. Unfortunately he’s not an autograph hunter and soon gets bumped off by the septuagenarian swastika wearer in a scene that was surprising to the victim, but not to anyone who’d been paying the least amount of attention.

We then move to Paris were a new judge (Tilda Swinton) has been appointed to investigate crimes against humanity - and Caine is top of her list. Strange the French gave this high profile job to a 30 year old Scottish woman but at least she has Jeremy Northam (Cyber) to give her a hand, but little else. The two take an age to make much progress, hampered as they are by the machinations of the catholic church and a shady organisation run by Baron Munchausen.

After the best part of two hours they eventually get close to their quarry - will the STATEMENT be delivered and will those responsible for letting Caine roam free for 40 years be brought to account?

For a film you probably haven’t heard of ‘The Statement’ has a great cast with recognisable names well down the list. Folk like Colin Salmon and Frank Finlay show up for five minutes and are never seen again. I guess shooting in the south of France did appeal!

Caine, who looks like Edward Woodward in ‘Common as Muck’ throughout this film, is pretty good as the conflicted collaborator and murderer. He’s conflicted in the sense he’s a devout catholic but doesn’t mind killing folk and threatening his wife‘s (Charlotte Rampling)  dog (Benni). He clutches his religious medal and prays at the drop of a body but it was hard to take to him despite his nifty shooting and roof running skills. If you don’t like Caine’s character much you don’t get much from the ‘good guys’ with Tilda Swinton and Northam not exactly setting the screen alight. A lot of the film is taken up with arguing and looking through records, and they could have trimmed 20 minutes from the middle third no bother at all.

That’s not to say it wasn’t a decent effort with a couple of exciting scenes and workmanlike, if unspectacular, acting throughout.

Some of it was a bit far fetched though - the Catholic church covering up decades of misdeeds? Surely not!

THE Tag Line - Deserves a Caineing 58%

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