The DebtDirector: John Madden, Focus Features, Rated MA, 113 mins
This thrilling espionage drama is a remake of the highly successful Israeli movie ‘Ha-Hov’ made in 2007 by award winning filmmaker John Madden (Shakeseare in Love) that tells the story of three Israeli Mossad agents assigned to capture a notorious Nazi war criminal in 1960’s East Berlin and who are feted on their return to Israel as depicted in the opening scenes - unaware that the truth is being exposed.
Madden’s movie initially takes place in Israel in 1997 with the sudden death of the retired agent David (Ciaran Hinds - Munich) and then through a series of flashbacks is set in East Germany in 1965 where the young Israeli trio of Stephan (NZ actor Martin Csokas - South Solitary), Rachel (Jessica Chastain - The Help) and David (Aussie actor Sam Worthington - Avatar) have succeeded in capturing the “Butcher of Birkenau” Dieter Vogel (Jesper Christensen) for atrocities committed against the Jews.
However they soon find out that not everything goes according to plan and swear an oath not to tell the real truth to avoid any embarrassment following their heroes’ welcome home.
Fast forward to the 90’s and an older Rachel (academy award winner Helen Mirren - The Queen) is being lauded in her daughter’s new book as are her older colleagues, David (Hinds) and Stephan (Tom Wilkinson - The Ghost Writer) for their successful mission.
But coinciding with the book launch a foreign journalist begins to uncover the truth to what really happened to Vogel which is revealed in the dramatic and suspenseful conclusion, showing the ruthless Rachel (Mirren) paying the final debt.
Madden uses to great effect the different time periods as well as an accomplished cast to play the younger and older agents-David (Worthington and Hinds), Rachel (Chastain and Mirren), and Stephan (Csokas and Wilkinson), with the performances of Chastain and Mirren being especially exceptional in a movie filled with plenty of tense drama and intrigue that proves particularly satisfying in seeing this debt repaid.
VIC'S VERDICT: 4 ½ Rubber Stamps
I Don’t Know How She Does ItDirector: Douglas McGrath, Weinstein Company, Rated PG, 89 mins
Sex and the City’s Sarah Jessica Parker plays the lead role of Kate Reddy in Douglas McGrath’s amusing comedy about a working mum who is portrayed as a “super woman” for being able to balance her hectic home life - including caring for her two daughters and architect husband Richard (Greg Kinnear - Ghost Town) with that of her highly stressed work life, that of a senior financial planning executive.
Based on Alison Pearson’s bestselling novel, McGrath has painted an appealing picture of an unpretentious woman who appears unfazed by the scale of responsibilities heaped upon her even after she has to deal with Jack Abelhammer (James Bond’s Pierce Brosnan), a wealthy client intent on implementing Kate’s financial plan which also requires her to commute regularly to New York with her delightful assistant Momo (Olivia Munn), much to the annoyance of her children and husband.
Like his earlier appearance in Mamma Mia Brosnan once again shows what a wonderful actor he is as does Kinnear and Munn but Parker’s performance is less pleasing depending on whether or not one is an ardent fan.
Besides being a comedy about a working mum, McGrath provides a comical insight into how some working mums can experience guilt and are treated differently from men in the workplace, but in the end, McGrath reveals how Kate really does it.
VIC'S VERDICT: 3 Rubber Stamps
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