Official Secrets

Available to stream and currently on Amazon Prime Video.

Written by Gregory and Sara Bernstein and directed by Gavin Hood, Official Secrets is based on the true story of Katherine Gun an employee of Britain’s intelligence and security agency who in 2003 leaked an inflammatory email from the US’s National Security Agency (NSA). The email made a request for information to be gathered that could be used to coerce members of the UN security council to support the US’s request for a resolution to invade Iraq.

The leaked email was published by The Observer newspaper and during the investigation into the leak, Gun admitted that she had leaked it, which lead to her being charged under the official secrets act. The film focusses on the period of just over 12 months from finding the NSA email to her court case.

Full disclosure, I’m a fan of any well done drama that focusses on the behind the scenes, underhand tactics of the machinery of government and the story of Gun certainly has that and Hood’s film tells it well.

Kiera Knightley plays Gun and gives a solid performance capturing the pressure that Gun must have felt as well as the bravery of knowingly putting herself and career at risk for something she believed was right.

This is Knightley’s film as the story focuses almost solely on her act and its impact and only touches on the impact to the British and US governments and some of the legal arguments that were core in the decision to invade Iraq. Knightly is supported well enough by Matt Smith, Ralph Fiennes and Adam Bakri as her husband, but Knightley does the vast majority of the heavy lifting.

The film moves on at a good pace and doesn’t get bogged down in exposition or behind closed doors legal debate. It is much more a personal story of dealing with the cost of making a decision based on your beliefs regardless of the personal cost.

This is a story told from Gun’s perspective and I’m sure there is a counter argument to the position it takes, but for what the film wants to say it does a good job of telling a complex and intriguing story and one I found engaging from start to finish.

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