Keep up-to-date on your favourite artists and movies, track gig and release dates, and join in the conversation.
SEARCH RESULTS FOR
Joel interviews the MIFF team to find out what's in this year's program announcement! Click to listen to our special SWITCHCast ep now.x
review, The Operative, The, Operative, film, movie, latest movies, new movie, movie ratings, current movie reviews, latest films, recent movies, current movies, movie critics, new movie reviews, latest movie reviews, latest movies out, the latest movies, review film, latest cinema releases, Australian reviews, cinema, cinema reviews, Diane Kruger, Martin Freeman, Cas Anvar, Werner Daehn, Liron Levo, Hadi Khanjanpour, Maria Gnecchi, Erez Ben-Ezra, Julia Schneider, Daniel Wandelt, Yuval Adler, Action, Crime, Drama, Romance, Thriller film rating

THE OPERATIVE

★★★

FINDING THE HUMANITY IN ESPIONAGE

JEWISH INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW
LATEST REVIEWS
By Jake Watt
20th November 2019

Almost by definition, films about spies can't be realistic. The sight of a group of nerds sitting in a room reading files and making notes or sitting, bored, in a car for hours, waiting for something to happen is enough to send anyone to the exit (with a few exceptions, like Tomas Alfredson's 'Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy' and Yoon Jong-bin's 'The Spy Gone North'). As John le Carré once said, spying is waiting, and long hours of diligence and patience are punctuated by minutes of frenetic activity.

'The Operative', written and directed by Yuval Adler from Yiftach R. Atir's novel, 'The English Teacher', falls into this category - but that isn't a bad thing.

Rachel (Diane Kruger, 'In The Fade') has been recruited into the Israeli intelligence service Mossad and is working an undercover operation in Tehran under the guise of being an English and French teacher. Her British handler, Thomas (Martin Freeman, 'Ghost Stories'., 'Black Panther'), gave her specific instructions to get close to Farhad Razavi (Cas Anvar, 'Room', 'The Lie'), the head of an electronics company.

'THE OPERATIVE' TRAILER

The goal is to get Razavi's company to import defective nuclear components which can then be used to track and determine Iran's nuclear intentions. However, once Rachel becomes romantically involved with Farhad, who is handsome, charming and honest, she drops off the grid.

Kicking off after a coded phone call, the narrative of the film plays out chronologically. Freeman and the Mossad handle the bulk of the exposition in the present tense, while past events are presented as long flashbacks, sometimes accompanied by Freeman's voiceover. Both storylines run closer together as the film progresses, until they eventually merge.

'The Operative' is a low-key realistic account of complex international espionage and intrigue, in the style that le Carré popularised, its characters fully realised humans living in a moral abyss, compromised in every aspect of the word. It's a realist antidote to the Manichean, good versus evil simplicities of 'Mission: Impossible - Fallout' and 'Jason Bourne'.

Instead of employing double and triple-crosses, the story primarily focuses on loyalty and humanity. Rachel's antagonistic relationship with her colleagues in the Mossad indicates a fundamental compassion that is palpable throughout the film. At one point, Rachel is told that people in Iran "all have many secrets." It's a way of life there and, this drama implies, everywhere else too. The antidote to this situation is trust, which can ground relationships and solidify work situations.

'The Operative' is a low-key realistic account of complex international espionage and intrigue, in the style that le Carré popularised, it's characters fully realized humans living in a moral abyss, compromised in every aspect of the word.

The multilingual Kruger plays Rachel with nuance as an ambiguous but rather normal character who is not profoundly troubled. She is both intense and contained, which also has the advantage of allowing us to feel as though we've fully experienced the plot with her, with all the suspense and anguish that comes with a classic spy mission.

Freeman's Thomas proves to be somewhat ambivalent in his attitude toward the agent. Even though Rachel ends up going rogue, Thomas still has an obvious interest in her career to the point that he would risk his life if he had to. In essence, the story revolves around the protection of two moral people: Farhad, who Rachel must defend from her spymasters, and Rachel herself, via her former mentor, Thomas.

The weakness of the film is its devotion to the minutiae of Rachel's story. While there are a handful of brief action scenes, a lot of 'The Operative' looks at the small tasks that Rachel completes in Tehran on the Mossad's behalf, with no glimpse at the bigger picture. Plus, a good portion of the film follows the burgeoning romance between Rachel and Farhad as they go to nightclubs, his brother's wedding and so on. The cinematography is businesslike and unflashy. As a spy thriller, there is a lot of spying but very little thriller, and not much of a sense of momentum.

Still, if you're after a character-focused espionage drama with an emphasis on real people and human drama rather than a James Bond-style spy caper featuring indestructible action heroes, 'The Operative' is worth checking out.

FAST FACTS
RELEASE DATE: TBA
RUN TIME: 2h 0m
CAST: Diane Kruger
Martin Freeman
Cas Anvar
Werner Daehn
Liron Levo
Hadi Khanjanpour
Maria Gnecchi
Erez Ben-Ezra
Julia Schneider
Daniel Wandelt
DIRECTOR: Yuval Adler
WRITERS: Yuval Adler
Yiftach Reicher-Atir
PRODUCERS: Michael Heimler
Teddy Schwarzman
Jim Stark
Anne Carey
Viola Fügen
Eitan Mansuri
Cécile Tollu-Polonowski
Michael Weber
SCORE: Frank Ilfman
TOP-RATED REVIEWS
Looking for more Jewish International Film Festival reviews? Click here to check out our collection of this year's highlights. 
Umbrella Home Entertainment Prize Pack - Get copies of Gunda, King Otto and Relic to enjoy at home!
TRENDINGWIN UMBRELLA HOME ENTERTAINMENT PRIZE PACKGet copies of Gunda, King Otto and Relic to enjoy at home!
Cosmic Sin - A film that delivers on the promise of its title
TRENDINGCOSMIC SINA film that delivers on the promise of its title
Pocahontas - 25 years later, the colours of the wind are fading
TRENDINGPOCAHONTAS25 years later, the colours of the wind are fading
Revisiting 'Dark City' 20 years later - The most underrated and influential sci-fi film ever?
TRENDINGREVISITING 'DARK CITY' 20 YEARS LATERThe most underrated and influential sci-fi film ever?
The Keeper - The true story of the Nazi goalkeeper and the English girl
TRENDINGTHE KEEPERThe true story of the Nazi goalkeeper and the English girl
Jungle Cruise - Sailing into a new Disney classic adventure
TRENDINGJUNGLE CRUISESailing into a new Disney classic adventure
The World at War - The landmark documentary series restored in high definition
TRENDINGTHE WORLD AT WARThe landmark documentary series restored in high definition
Suicide Squad - A woefully dull and incomprehensible mess
TRENDINGSUICIDE SQUADA woefully dull and incomprehensible mess
The Princess Diaries - 20 years since Genovia found its princess
TRENDINGTHE PRINCESS DIARIES20 years since Genovia found its princess
River's Edge - The kids aren't alright
TRENDINGRIVER'S EDGEThe kids aren't alright
Matilda - Revolting children for 25 years
TRENDINGMATILDARevolting children for 25 years
Golden Voices - Immigration struggles with amusing challenges
TRENDINGGOLDEN VOICESImmigration struggles with amusing challenges
Boxing Day Movies 2020 - The year's biggest films bursting onto cinema screens
TRENDINGBOXING DAY MOVIES 2020The year's biggest films bursting onto cinema screens
Fanny Lye Deliver'd - Feminist folk horror
TRENDINGFANNY LYE DELIVER'DFeminist folk horror
The Last Horns of Africa - The danger, the heartache and the importance of saving the Rhinos
TRENDINGTHE LAST HORNS OF AFRICAThe danger, the heartache and the importance of saving the Rhinos
Monty Python's Flying Circus: The Complete Series - Sketches at a revolution
TRENDINGMONTY PYTHON'S FLYING CIRCUS: THE COMPLETE SERIESSketches at a revolution
25 Free-to-Watch Short Horror Films - The scariest shorts we uncovered online
TRENDING25 FREE-TO-WATCH SHORT HORROR FILMSThe scariest shorts we uncovered online
Aiyai: Wrathful Soul - Ambitious but unfocused Aussie horror
TRENDINGAIYAI: WRATHFUL SOULAmbitious but unfocused Aussie horror
Midsommar: The Director's Cut - Ari Aster elevates an already remarkable film to a masterpiece
TRENDINGMIDSOMMAR: THE DIRECTOR'S CUTAri Aster elevates an already remarkable film to a masterpiece
Inseparable Bros - A heartwarming tale about disability and the power of friendship
TRENDINGINSEPARABLE BROSA heartwarming tale about disability and the power of friendship
© 2011 - 2021 midnightproductions
All rights reserved

Support SWITCH | Disclaimer | Contact Us!