The Statement

In 1989, French authorities found and arrested Paul Touvier for crimes against humanity. Why is this notable? Because Touvier committed the alleged crimes during World War II. Touvier was charged, and later convicted of killing seven Jewish men while working for the Vichy regime of France. The reason that it took authorities so long to find Touvier was that the Catholic Church was helping him move from hiding place to hiding place. The Statement, based on Brian Moore's novel, is based on Touvier. The main character is now called Pierre Broussard (Michael Caine, Secondhand Lions, The Quiet American). Caine is English, as is every other actor, so although everything takes place in France with French characters, everybody has an English accent.

There are two groups who want to find Broussard. Judge Anne Marie Livi (Tilda Swinton, Adaptation, Vanilla Sky) and Colonel Roux (Jeremy Northam, The Singing Detective, Possession) are working on the side of the law. They are using a newly enacted law for crimes against humanity to finally capture Broussard, whom the French government pardoned earlier. They want him to face a judge, unlike a mysterious man (John Neville, Spider, Harvard Man) and Pochon (Ciaran Hinds, Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life, Veronica Guerin), who are hiring assassins to kill Broussard. When the job is done, they are to place a statement on his body identifying him and his crimes.

Broussard, on the run for half a century, knows how to recognize danger. He has contacts dating back to the War that give him money and help him to move to various churches for safekeeping. The Statement turns into a race to see who can capture Broussard first, and a pretty ordinary race at that. The story itself is pretty compelling, especially the damning allegations of complicity amongst the French police and Catholic Church, but this film is more concerned with the business of making a chase movie rather than reexamining history in any sort of depth. Director Norman Jewison (The Hurricane, Bogus) and adapter Ronald Harwood (The Pianist, Taking Sides) do nothing to distinguish this film from any other police drama.

It's pretty sad given the considerable talent in front of and behind the camera. Caine and Charlotte Rampling (Swimming Pool, Spy Game) both look and sound like they are bored. However, a bored Caine and Rampling are still far better at acting than many others. Caine does do a decent job of blathering like a crybaby to various priests one moment, then turning deadly serious the next. Broussard is a liar who's been hiding for decades, so he has perfected the art of trying to look inconspicuous and harmless. The Statement spends too much time establishing things in the first half. Jewison and Harwood are able to build some tension near the end when it looks like Livi, Roux, and Pochon are all about the converge on Broussard, but this could just as well be from the inherent nature of the film rather than anything they did.

Mongoose Rates It: Okay.
2 hours, Rated R for violence.

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