Official Secrets Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

Pros: adaptation of the story of Kathryn Gun; the characters in the film are based on real people; cast Cons: characters may seem idealized “State Secrets” / Official Secrets

Genre Drama, Thriller
Directed by Gavin Hood
Cast: Keira Knightley (Katherine Gan), Matt Smith (Martin Bright), Matthew Goode (Peter Beaumont), Conleth Hill (Roger Elton), Ralph Fiennes (Ben Emmerson), Indira Varma (Shami Chakrabarti), Rhys Ifans (Ed Values) , Mianna Bering (Jasmine), Hattie Morahan (Yvonne Ridley), etc.
Компании Clear Pictures Entertainment, Raindog Films, The Gordon Company
Year of release 2019
IMDB website

In Britain they still remember the name of Katherine Gun, about whom all publications wrote in 2003. The world would never have known about it if a translator from the British Government Communications Headquarters had not decided to make the secret document public.

The film shows the beginning of this story. Katherine Gun (Keira Knightley) works in an organization that requires complete confidentiality. One day, she and other headquarters employees receive a letter that contains strange instructions. In it, the US National Security Agency asks for information about UN delegates. This data can be used to manipulate votes in favor of the war in Iraq. Catherine is shocked by the methods used by the USA and Britain. She decides to copy the contents of the letter and anonymously pass it on to the media. The message is received by Martin Bright (Matt Smith), a famous Observer journalist who cannot publish high-profile news without confirmation. Finding evidence is extremely difficult, as is getting to those who authored the instructions.

Due to the specific nature of the subject matter, director Gavin Hood (directed the film X-Men Origins: Wolverine) tries to convey every dialogue and every meeting that influenced the development of events. At times it seems that he was filming an analytical article rather than a script. It is worth recognizing that in “State Secrets” this is not a minus; this is the only way to understand what structures were involved in the manipulations and how difficult it was to collect at least verbal confirmation of the conspiracy.


What brings the film to life is the way Keira Knightley presents her character. In her performance, Katherine Gun is a completely ordinary woman who is guided by a sense of justice and a sincere belief that there are people willing to listen to common sense. She talks to the television, parrying the lies of Prime Minister Tony Blair, and disputing the need for war. Another point that illustrates Catherine’s daily life is the episodes that depict her trusting relationship with her husband.


But “State Secrets” does not concentrate on everyday episodes. The film carefully alternates between scenes in editorial offices and offices, where the truth about the plans of the US National Security Agency can somehow come to light. So, at some point, lawyer Ben Emmerson joins the case of Katherine Gun’s act; the famous human rights activist is played by actor Ralph Fiennes (Harry Potter, The Grand Budapest Hotel).


The most expressive character is Observer journalist Martin Bright, who is charismatically portrayed by Matt Smith (The Crown, Doctor Who). He takes on the investigation of a case that no one believes in, and which, if published, may be considered a fake. At times, it’s Bright, who has a supporting role in the film, who seems to be the main character who gets things done.


It is obvious that translator Katherine Gun, lawyer Ben Emmerson and journalist Martin Bright are somewhat idealized characters, although copied from real people. In the film, they become a kind of symbol of a caring society, which reflects on whether an attempt to preserve peace could be high treason.


Overall, the drama maintains suspense through the awareness of the unequal power of visible characters competing with invisible and powerful politicians. At first, watching a film may seem like a dismal prospect of sitting and listening to dry language from official documents for a long time. However, involvement in the plot occurs quite quickly, confusing moments are explained through the lips of the heroes, and we already know the consequences of the war in question.


the film looks like an adaptation of an analytical article. At first it seems that it will be boring, but the film captivates and completely immerses you in the topic.

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