The Statement (film)
|Directed by||Norman Jewison|
|Produced by||Norman Jewison
|Screenplay by||Ronald Harwood|
|Based on||The Statement
by Brian Moore
|Editing by||Andrew S. Eisen
Stephen E. Rivkin
|Distributed by||Sony Pictures Classics|
|Running time||120 minutes|
The plot was inspired by the true story of Paul Touvier, a Vichy French police official, who was indicted after World War II for war crimes. In 1944, Touvier ordered the execution of seven Jews in retaliation for the Resistance's assassination of Vichy France minister Philippe Henriot. For decades after the war he escaped trial thanks to an intricate web of protection, which allegedly included senior members of the Roman Catholic priesthood. He was arrested in 1989 inside a Traditionalist Catholic Priory in Nice and was convicted in 1994. He died in prison in 1996.
Pierre Brossard (Michael Caine), a French Nazi collaborator, orders seven Jews executed during World War II. Some 40 years later, he is pursued by "David Manenbaum" (Matt Craven), a hitman who is under orders to kill Brossard and leave a printed 'Statement' on his body proclaiming the assassination was vengeance for the Jews executed in 1944. Brossard sees "Manenbaum" at a local bar, becomes concerned about possible trouble, and begins to run from him. Brossard kills "Manenbaum", then realizes he must now run from the law to save his life. Brossard hides "Manenbaum's" body and car, after robbing the dead body, finding the printed 'Statement', and discovering that his pursuer was travelling on a Canadian passport. Brossard spends the rest of the film running between short-term sanctuaries in southern France within the Traditionalist Catholic community, appealing to long-time allies who have operated in great secrecy to shield him and provide him with funds for years, but now bring increased scrutiny to themselves for continuing to do so.
The murder of "Manenbaum" attracts the interest of local police, and eventually the persistent Investigating Judge Annemarie Livi (Tilda Swinton). She becomes absorbed by the case, and is not discouraged by the lack of assistance she encounters from official sectors she believes should be helping her. Livi forms an alliance with the similarly dedicated Colonel Roux (Jeremy Northam), a senior French Gendarmerie investigator, and the pair initially suspect that "Manenbaum" was part of a Jewish assassination plot. The pair dig deeply into the case, and discover that Brossard has been the subject of several previous investigations, dating back more than 40 years, which have all failed. Just how has Brossard been able to escape justice for so long? Livi and Roux discover hidden resources and build up the pressure, tightening the noose around Brossard, who finds his allies increasingly reluctant to help him. Meanwhile, doubts begin to arise over the theory of a Jewish hit squad, but it is clear that someone wants Brossard dead, and the elimination of "Manenbaum" does not put an end to their efforts.
Brossard in desperation secretly pays a surprise visit to his estranged wife Nicole (Charlotte Rampling), a maid who is living in lower-middle-class circumstances in Marseille and is very apprehensive about seeing him again. Brossard's allies, including certain priests and a wartime colleague, who has risen into a position of great power within the French government, are feeling the heat from the relentless questioning of Livi and Roux. As the story approaches its climax, Brossard, desperate and unsure whom to trust, seeks new identity papers and money, so he can escape France forever. He knows far too much for the safety of his protectors, and has relied upon this fact for years. But Brossard is now living on borrowed time, and it becomes a question of not only whether he can avoid capture and flee France, but also of which pursuer will find him first.
- Michael Caine as Pierre Brossard
- Tilda Swinton as Anne-Marie Levi
- Jeremy Northam as Colonel Roux
- Alan Bates as Armand Bertier
- Charlotte Rampling as Nicole
- Ciarán Hinds as Pochon
- Matt Craven as David Manenbaum