In the U.K., the Official Secrets Act is the one that governs the protection of, and thus criminalizes the leakage of, national security information, and this film recounts the real-life story of one whistleblower who ran afoul of it. In 2003, as the U.S. is trying to drum up support for the Iraq War and getting Tony Blair's Britain involved, Katharine Gun (Keira Knightley), an intelligence-agency translator, comes across a memo from America's National Security Agency requesting British help bugging the offices of five nations on the U.N.'s Security Council in the hope of digging up dirt to coerce these five vital swing votes to vote yes on the U.N.'s resolution of support.
Director Gavin Hood stirs in actual period news footage of Blair and George W. Bush cheerleading for the invasion, plus plenty of familiar faces—Ralph Fiennes, Jeremy Northam, Matthew Goode and Matt Smith—to support Knightley's star turn and enrich his drama of bravery, conscience, and the conflict of loyalty to country vs. loyalty to humanity.
“Knightley gives one of her strongest performances here, using her innate steeliness and presence to create a convincing portrait of a courageous zealot who believes in right and wrong in an almost biblical sense.” —Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times “Bloody hell, the Brits do low-key, paranoid procedural dramas like OFFICIAL SECRETS well, with a pervading chill and no flash: The crispness cuts like a knife.” —David Edelstein, Vulture “[Katharine] Gun is played with brittle fury by Keira Knightley…. It is a performance that viscerally revives the rage and heartbreak we all felt when we learned that the war was justified entirely by lies and deception.” —Oliver Jones, Observer (UK)
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