Mr Jones (2019 film)
|Directed by||Agnieszka Holland|
|Written by||Andrea Chalupa|
|Music by||Antoni Komasa-Łazarkiewicz|
|Edited by||Michal Czarnecki|
|Box office||$2.8 million|
Mr Jones (Polish: Obywatel Jones; Ukrainian: Ціна правди) is a 2019 biographical thriller film directed by Agnieszka Holland. It was selected to compete for the Golden Bear at the 69th Berlin International Film Festival. The film loosely tells the story of Gareth Jones, a journalist from Wales, who in 1933 travels to the Soviet Union and uncovers the truth about the Holodomor, the devastating famine in Ukraine in which millions died.
In 1933, Gareth Jones is an ambitious young journalist who has gained some renown for his interview with Adolf Hitler. Thanks to his connections to Lloyd George, the former British prime minister, he is able to get official permission to travel to the Soviet Union. Jones intends to try to interview Stalin and to find out more about the Soviet Union's economic expansion and its apparently-successful five-year development plan.
Jones is restricted to Moscow but jumps his train and travels unofficially to Ukraine to discover evidence of the Holodomor, including empty villages, starving people, cannibalism and the enforced collection of grain. On his return to Britain, he struggles to get his story taken seriously. The film ends by recording that Jones died in Mongolia on a return visit to the Soviet Union while travelling with a guide who was secretly employed by the Soviet secret service.
- James Norton as Gareth Jones
- Vanessa Kirby as Ada Brooks
- Peter Sarsgaard as Walter Duranty
- Kenneth Cranham as David Lloyd George
- Joseph Mawle as George Orwell
- Celyn Jones as Matthew
- Krzysztof Pieczyński as Maxim Litvinov
- Beata Poźniak as Rhea Clyman
- Fenella Woolgar as Ms Stevens
- Maritn Bishop as Ernest Bennett
- Edward Wolstenholme as Eugene Lyons
- Marcin Czarnik as Paul Kleb
- Matthew Marsh as William Randolph Hearst
The film had its world premiere at the 2019 Berlin International Film Festival. Distribution rights for North America were acquired by Samuel Goldwyn Films in August 2019, and was released in the United Kingdom on 7 February 2020. It was scheduled to be released in the United States on 3 April 2020.
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 84% based on 87 reviews, with an average rating of 6.83/10. The website's critics consensus reads: "Flawed yet fundamentally worthy, Mr. Jones peers into the past to tell a fact-based story that remains troublingly relevant today." On Metacritic the film has a score of 68 out of 100 based on reviews from 19 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
Kevin Maher of The Times gave the film two out of five, calling it a "bungled biopic of Stalin whistle-blower". Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian however gave the film four out of five, calling it "a bold and heartfelt movie with a real Lean-ian sweep". Tim Robey of The Telegraph gave it three out of five. He praised Sarsgaard, for his performance and for raising the "sadly untapped" potential of the film. Robey criticised the script and concluded "There's enough in Mr Jones to make you want a good deal more". David Ehrlich at Indiewire gave the film a grade C.
The film was received poorly by members of Gareth Jones's family, who drew attention to its various distortions and historical inaccuracies, but acknowledged the high quality of the filmography. They also accused the filmmakers of having taken advantage of their research, assistance and goodwill. On 20 January 2020 a news story appeared in the Sunday Times entitled "Family fury as film turns daring reporter Gareth Jones into accidental cannibal". This was based on an article written by Jones's great-nephew, Philip Colley, "The True Story behind the 'True Story' of Mr Jones".
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- Ide, Wendy (9 February 2020). "Mr Jones review – gripping Stalin-era thriller with James Norton". The Observer. Retrieved 10 February 2020.
- "Selection for Competition and Berlinale Special Completed". berlinale. Retrieved 17 January 2019.
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- Barraclough, Leo (28 January 2019). "First Footage From Berlin Competition Film Mr. Jones (EXCLUSIVE)". Retrieved 25 June 2019.
- Mitchell, Robert (22 August 2019). "Samuel Goldwyn Films Takes U.S. Rights to Berlin Competition Title 'Mr Jones'". Variety. Retrieved 10 December 2019.
- "Mr. Jones (2019)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 10 August 2020.
- "Mr. Jones". Metacritic. Retrieved 10 August 2020.
- Maher, Kevin. "Mr Jones review – bungled biopic of Stalin whistle-blower". ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 9 December 2020.
- Bradshaw, Peter (11 February 2019). "Mr Jones review – newsman's heroic journey into a Soviet nightmare". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 June 2019.
- Robey, Tim (15 February 2019). "Mr Jones. Berlin Film Festival review: James Norton makes history as the original fake news crusader". Retrieved 25 June 2019 – via www.telegraph.co.uk.
- Ehrlich, David (10 February 2019). "Mr. Jones Review: Agnieszka Holland's messy biopic about the journalist who exposed Stalin – Berlinale". Indiewire. Retrieved 25 June 2019.
- Tucker, Grant. "Family fury as film turns daring reporter Gareth Jones into accidental cannibal". ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 9 December 2020.
- Colley, Philip. "The true story behind the 'true story' of Mr Jones". www.garethjones.org. Retrieved 9 December 2020.
- "Mr. Jones tames the Golden Lions at the Polish Film Festival in Gdynia". cineuropa. Retrieved 27 October 2019.