Official Secrets (2019)

Official Secrets poster.jpgDirector: Gavin Hood
Running Time: 112 Minutes
Rating: 15
Starring: Keira Knightley, Matt Smith, Matthew Goode, Rhys Ifans, Adam Bakri, Indira Varma, Ralph Fiennes, Conleth Hill, Tamsin Greig, Hattie Morahan, Ray Panthaki

To this day, the Iraq war and its aftermath are well known entities in the larger world, but the same cannot be said for Katherine Gun. It's a shame this is the case, and director Gavin Hood set out to change that, as he worked on the script alongside Gregory & Sara Bernstein, aiming to bring light to Gun's story. An employee of GCHQ, she became a whistleblower upon leaking a secret memo received at her job, detailing a blackmail operation against UN members, in an attempt to sway the votes towards making the Iraq war happen.

Front and centre is Gun herself, portrayed by an excellent Keira Knightley. She does great work in conveying the weight of it all, as Katherine just wants to do the right thing, no matter the consequences. The unfortunate blowback of it all impacts various aspects of her life, even the most miniscule of areas, leaving it to feel like she's trying to swim upstream against a torrent of abuse, aimed at her by cruel and petty people in positions of power. It's a testament to Knightley's performance with how exceptionally she captures how overwhelming it can all feel, while also showcasing the resilience which lies within her depiction of Gun.

In an effort to showcase the wider elements of this true story, the film also depicts the memo reaching The Observer, where the papers journalists looked into the document's validity, and eventually printed it. It's a subplot that's also crucia, with its own engaging narrative, while also depicting how the simplest moments of everyday work can unfortunately have a larger impact than you intend. What's a shame is how this part of the story feels taken from a different film to the one the Katherine Gun plot resides in. It feels like an amalgamation of scripts, and it's evident that this one wishes to be All The President's Men. As such, the supporting characters are left to showcase their great performances through sporadic appearances, as the unwieldy ploy tries to juggle them all. Still, the end result is an engrossing tale about a government lying to the people for their own needs, something which unfortunately has modern day relevance.