Operation Mincemeat (12A)
Operation Mincemeat (12A)
Director: John Madden
Runtime: 128 mins
Cast: Colin Firth, Matthew Macfadyen, Kelly Macdonald, Penelope Wilton, Jason Isaacs, Johnny Flynn, Simon Russell Beale, Mark Gatiss
Synopsis: It’s 1943. The Allies are determined to break Hitler’s grip on occupied Europe, and plan an all-out assault on Sicily; but they face an impossible challenge – how to protect a massive invasion force from potential massacre. It falls to two remarkable intelligence officers, Ewen Montagu and Charles Cholmondeley to dream the most inspired and improbable disinformation strategy of the war – centred on the most unlikely of secret agents: a dead man. Operation Mincemeat is the extraordinary and true story of an idea that hoped to alter the course of the war – defying logic, risking countless thousands of lives, and testing the nerves of its creators to breaking point.
Directed by John Madden [Shakespeare in Love (1998), which won the Academy Award for Best Picture, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2012) and its sequel The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2015)], the film is based upon bestselling author Ben Macintyre’s nonfiction book: Operation Mincemeat: The True Spy Story that Changed the Course of World War II .
The film has a top quality cast starring: Colin Firth, Kelly Macdonald, Matthew Macfadyen, Penelope Wilton, Johnny Flynn, Jason Isaacs, Paul Ritter and Simon Russell Beale. It is notable as the final film appearance of Friday Night Dinner star Paul Ritter, who tragically passed away a year ago. In the film Ritter plays Bentley Purchase, the coroner who found the corpse that they used for the mission and the film is dedicated to him.
The film is based on a true story and dubbed: The Strangest Military Hoax of World War II!
A 1956 film was directed by the late Ronald Neame asThe Man Who Never Was, starring Clifton Webb and Gloria Grahame and featuring Robert Flemyng, Josephine Griffin and Stephen Boyd.
Colin Firth and Matthew Macfadyen are suitably stiff upper lipped as Ewen Montagu and Charles Cholmondeley who came up with the plan to try to get the German High Command to shift its forces away from Italy prior to the invasion. To create the illusion that Britain is in fact planning to invade Greece, they planned to procure a dead body, plant secret papers on it, and arrange for the Spanish authorities to find it and send the papers on to the Germans. They were hoping that this stranger than fiction plan would pass German scrutiny.
Prime Minister Churchill [Simon Russell Beale] and Admiral John Godfrey [Jason Isaacs) have enlisted the help of Ewen Montagu (Colin Firth), an eminent-QC-turned-Naval -Lieutenant-Commander whose Jewish wife has had to flee to America with their children. Charles Cholmondeley (Matthew Macfadyen), a clever yet self-contained RAF flight lieutenant grieving the loss of his own brother in battle.
Montagu and Cholmondeley plan to acquire an unclaimed dead body from the city mortuary and use it to fool German forces into believing that the Allies would be invading Greece and Sardinia, rather than Sicily. Later the duo enlists the help of government employee Jean
(Kelly Macdonald) to help build a fake identity and backstory for the corpse, as the body is to be set up with fake papers to mislead the Nazis. She gives a photograph to go in his top pocket and an elegant heart-breaking love letter for him to carry.
The dead man is allegedly Major Bill Martin, dashing and heroic, with a sweetheart at home. But in fact Martin is Glyndwr Michael, a troubled homeless man who left Wales to tragically die in London in the worst of circumstances.
Johnny Flynn plays naval intelligence’s brightest spark: Lt Cdr Ian Fleming – the future creator of James Bond who provides a witty performance and wry observations throughout.
Secretarial head Hester Leggett (Penelope Wilton) is a capable and competent team member and Mark Gatiss plays Montagu’s brother Ivor, whose suspected ties to the Communist Party
The story of Operation Mincemeat is unique and bizarre with its blend of high-level espionage and ingenious fiction, where the stakes could hardly be higher. Michelle Ashford’s script fuses multiple strands and moods: tense, romantic, thrilling, unexpectedly funny, and endlessly surprising. It tells a richly human story of the soldiers we seldom see, who fight a different kind of war in shadows and deception, haunted by the knowledge that certainty and guarantee of success are nowhere to be found.
John Madden’s direction is accomplished and the acting ensemble superb.
Images courtesy of: Warner Bros.