sitting on the edge of the sandbox, biting my tongue

September 6, 2011

Movie Review: The Debt

Filed under: film — Tags: , — edge of the sandbox @ 7:08 pm

Yesterday is the 39th anniversary of the Munich massacre (note the role of the current “Palestinian” “Prime Minister”), and it’s only fitting that we went to see The Debt.  If you haven’t heard about the film, here is the trailer:

I don’t usually watch action/suspense flicks, but I thought it was good.  The acting and directing were superb, and the screen play was very ambitious, although the ending seemed a bit too much at first.  I think a lot of of critics had the same reaction.  On second thought, I think it all worked well.  One of the movie’s central themes is the necessity of hunting down evil, and the ending wraps it up nicely.

Roger Simon and Lionel Chetwynd suggested that the movie is too smart for the critics:

The Debt raised many questions: about the nature of evil, about truth, about ordinary life versus higher calling.  It must be very difficult for an American film critic to imagine that there are people out there for whom questions posed in The Debt are very real.  I doubt they can understand the mentality of a nation that has to get justice for the ultimate evil.  So I’m not surprised they weren’t too impressed.  Now, if you give them some cheap moral relativism they’d be praising the film for its alleged complexities.

The leading female character Rachel is played by Helen Mirren and Jessica Chastain.  Both actresses give a superb performance.  Rachel, who lost her mother in the Holocaust, comes across as nurturing and feminine.  She is also strong, and can be the strongest at her most vulnerable.  I can see doctrinaire critics not wanting to engage with this very Israeli character.

I can point a few minor authenticity problems:  I seriously doubt that in the 1960s East Berlin ambulatory medical patients wore American-style hospital gowns.  The swinging party in Tel Aviv should have been in the early 70s, not mid-60s.  Israel could not have been that far back style-wise.

A good film, definitely worth checking out on the big screen.  I’m also intrigued by the Israeli film under the same name on which The Debt is based.



  1. thanks for the review; something to keep in mind. Good movies can be hard to come by, and so many times I think, well that looks good. Then it ain’t.

    And: “give them some cheap moral relativism they’d be praising the film for its alleged complexities.”

    ha hahaha ha amen to that.

    Comment by nooneofanyimport — September 7, 2011 @ 4:50 pm

  2. Thanks for the review; it’s becoming difficult to find modern movies that aren’t idiotic, sophomoric, disgusting, and geared to people with an IQ of 70.

    Comment by Karen Howes — September 7, 2011 @ 5:58 pm

  3. I heard it puts Mossad in a bad light?

    Comment by Angel — September 7, 2011 @ 6:49 pm

    • I don’t think so.
      Without giving away much of the plot… the real life operation was executed with much tighter precision, so it does require some suspension of disbelief. One out of three agents is not a sympathetic character, but there is clearly an evil character in this film, and he is not working for the Mossad.

      Comment by edge of the sandbox — September 7, 2011 @ 8:16 pm

    • I have to add, I did see a poorly written review that said a) the film is based on a true story and b) questions Mossad morality. If one wants to be an anti-Semite, nothing will stop him. I don’t think the film is bad.

      Comment by edge of the sandbox — September 8, 2011 @ 8:41 am

  4. How different is it from Munich?

    Comment by Harrison — September 7, 2011 @ 7:09 pm

    • I haven’t seen Munich. I read a lot of bad reviews, it’s a Tony Kushner screenplay, and he had to stick moral equivalence there, along the lines that Mossad are the same as the terrorists. There is none of that in The Debt.

      Comment by edge of the sandbox — September 7, 2011 @ 8:44 pm

      • I will see this movie. I rather liked Munich. I thought it was though provoking and well done. I don’t think the Mossad came off badly.

        Comment by Harrison — September 8, 2011 @ 8:32 am

  5. Good Review! Sports an intriguing premise and uniformly strong performances, but its second act is mediocre and its third act even worse, and it can’t help but pale in comparison to Munich. Check out mine when you get your chance!

    Comment by CMrok93 — September 7, 2011 @ 10:40 pm

  6. Linda, Karen, my pleasure.

    Well, the suspense was in the first part. I’m not a big fan of action flicks, so I watched it as a drama. I liked the portion that takes part in Israel because it’s essential for character development. I thought the acting was amazing, particularly the female leads, and that’s where I really came to appreciate the work of both Miren and Chastian. The finale seemed a bit too much much at first, but I think it was necessary too, because it shows that evil had to be hunted.
    Munich was an immoral movie because it drew equivalence between the terror perpetrators and the victim. The Debt does no such thing; in fact, it commands you to fight evil. People who refuse to do so are complacent with the evil.
    I’ll check out your review. Cheers!

    Comment by edge of the sandbox — September 8, 2011 @ 8:53 am

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