Farewell (2009 film)

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Farewell
Laffaire farewell ver2.jpg
United States theatrical poster
Directed by Christian Carion
Starring Guillaume Canet
Emir Kusturica
Willem Dafoe
and Fred Ward
Release dates
  • September 4, 2009 (2009-09-04) (Telluride)
  • September 23, 2009 (2009-09-23) (France)
Country France
Language French
Russian
English

Farewell (French: L'affaire Farewell; literally The Farewell Affair) is a 2009 French film directed by Christian Carion, starring Guillaume Canet and Emir Kusturica. The film is an espionage thriller loosely based on actions of the high-ranking KGB official, Vladimir Vetrov. It was released in the United States in June 2010.[1] It was adapted from the book Bonjour Farewell: La vérité sur la taupe française du KGB (1997) by Serguei Kostine.

Synopsis[edit]

In the early 1980s, a high-ranking KGB analyst, Sergei Grigoriev, disillusioned with the Soviet regime, decides to pass Soviet secrets, including a list of Soviet spies, to the government of France, then under the newly elected President François Mitterrand, a Socialist in coalition with the Communist Party. Grigoriev (code-named Farewell by the French intelligence service) hopes to force change in the Soviet Union by revealing their extensive network of spies trying to acquire scientific, technical and industrial information from the West. He uses Pierre Froment, a naïve French engineer based in Moscow, as his unlikely intermediary. After the first transfer of information, Pierre confides in his wife Jessica, who is adamant about his stopping to preserve their family. Grigoriev persuades Pierre to continue without telling Jessica. He will accept neither money nor defection as a reward, but sometimes requests small gifts from Pierre's trips to France, such as a Sony Walkman and Queen cassette tapes for his son, some cognac, or books of French poetry. As Farewell's prodigious output blossoms, the French are bewildered by the sheer scale and yield of top Western technology transferred covertly to the Soviets.

Under suspicion that he is not a trustworthy ally, Mitterrand personally hands U.S. President Ronald Reagan a dossier of invaluable Farewell data during the Ottawa summit. The Americans are astounded with it and other information provided by Farewell, culminating in the full "List X" of Soviet spies within the highest echelons of the Western scientific and industrial apparatus. They embark on an ambitious plan to feed the Soviets erroneous or defective data; shortly after, the network of Soviet technology spies in the West is rolled up, and Reagan announces the "Star Wars" antimissile shield project. Deprived of hi-tech information from the West, and with their own laboratories behind, the Soviet leadership panics. Seeing this desperate impasse for what it is, Mikhail Gorbachev, then an upwards-mobile party official, starts preparing the reform policies he is to pursue in the future.

Grigoriev's superior, a double agent for the CIA, is directed by them to sacrifice Grigoriev and save the Froments, all unbeknownst to the French. Grigoriev, under arrest and KGB interrogation, plays to buy the Froments time to escape. They cover their traces and flee in their car to the Finnish border. While in West Germany for debriefing, Froment pleads with the CIA Director to save Grigoriev, praising the integrity and selflessness of the man. The director refuses as a policy principle, having brought the other agent to the West. Grigoriev is granted his request of execution by a marksman on the jetty of the snow-clad lake he loves. The Froments are offered a company job in Manhattan.

Cast[edit]

Reception[edit]

The film received positive reviews from United States critics, as measured by the review aggregators Metacritic[2] and Rotten Tomatoes.[3]

Notes[edit]

See also[edit]

Farewell Dossier

Further reading[edit]

  • Thomas C. Reed, At the Abyss: An Insider’s History of the Cold War (2004)
  • Sergei Kostin and Eric Raynaud, Adieu Farewell (Laffont, Paris, 2009, in French); "Farewell" (AmazonCrossing, Aug. 2011, in English). First complete investigation of the Farewell Dossier and its international impact.
  • Michel Louyot, Le Violon de neige (Publibook, Paris, 2008; soon to be available in English).

External links[edit]