Loosely inspired by true events, this film by the Parisian director of Anthony Zimmer (2005), to the saga of Largo Winch (2008/2011), Operation Zulu (2013) y the odyssey (2016) tells the story of Mathiew Roussel, a French citizen living in a small town in Siberia who is persecuted, imprisoned, and prosecuted for heinous crimes he never committed.
Kompromat: the Russian file (Kompromat, France/2022). Directed by: Jerome Salle. Cast: Gilles Lellouche, Joanna Kulig, Michael Gorevoy, Sasha Piltsin and Mikhail Safronov. Screenplay: Caryl Ferey and Jérôme Salle. Photography: Mathias Boucard. Music: Guillaume Roussel. Distributor: CDI Films. Duration: 127 minutes. Suitable for over 13 years old with reserves. Screens (first week): 16 (Atlas Patio Bullrich, Atlas Caballito, Belgrano Multiplex, Cinemark Palermo, Cinépolis Recoleta, Showcase Belgrano, Cinépolis Houssay, Cinépolis Avellaneda, Cinépolis Pilar, Atlas Nordelta, Showcase Norte, Cinépolis Mendoza, Showcase Cordoba, Showcase Rosario , Cine América in Santa Fe and Cines del Centro in Rosario).
Kompromat is the term established by the Russian secret services that defines what we would call here the setting up of a false cause to incriminate an innocent victim. Something that apparently can happen here as in Irkutsk, the small town located in cold Siberia where this story takes place. The film begins with our protagonist fleeing through the woods, who is being chased by a group of armed men. Things are not looking good and everything indicates that he is losing. Then, from successive raccontos, it will be revealed to us how we got to this point. It’s a good start. In general, these schemes that begin with some kind of borderline or very dramatic scene (used both in the novel The tunnelby Ernesto Sábato, as in the series Breaking Badto cite two disparate examples) manage to capture, since they install the intrigue from the first moment and make us wonder how the character got to that terrible situation.
We will soon learn that Mathieu Roussel (Gilles Lellouche), installed with his wife and little daughter a few months ago in this frozen Siberian town to direct the cultural space of the Alliance Française, committed certain “imprudences” that angered some Russians, and we know that Russians are by definition short-tempered and very, very mean people. At the inauguration of the new auditorium, which was attended by the local authorities, Mathieu presented a quite sensual modern dance show starring two men (French liberty making the local rustics uncomfortable) and then at the party he took something extra and left. He got cuddly with a blonde he wasn’t supposed to mess with.
Some time later, one afternoon while he was playing with his daughter, a commando violently broke into his home and took him away with blows and shouts, without explanation. In this violent and distressing sequence in which Mathieu does not have the remotest idea of what is happening, the ordeal of our protagonist begins in a story full of commonplaces and clichés that are based on the premise – even made explicit – that the Russians are bad, violent and backward, and that the French are good, free and humanistic.
There are several problems that we can analyze in Kompromat, but in principle there is an “original defect” and that is that the same premise that originates the story is excessive or implausible. Mathieu’s small “blunders” at the beginning of this story are out of proportion to the tremendous reaction involving the security forces, the government, the media and the Russian Justice to defame, imprison and convict this French official for fabricated reasons. domestic violence and pedophilia. The approach to his marriage in crisis is light and the romance with “the Russian girl” (Joanna Kulig) who risks everything is not credible, nor the repentant Russians, nor the attitude of the French consulate, nor his escape (besides being violent , cruel and undemocratic, the Russians are quite stupid), and what to say about the confrontation with the fearsome FSB hitman (former KGB), who we also know killed children in the war, as if that were not enough.
In the same way that the fact that a film is presented as “very loosely based on true events” does not make it a better film, this schematic representation of good guys and bad guys would not necessarily lead to a bad movie either. And wow, the story of a man imprisoned and tortured without reason would make for a very good story with dramatic, political, action and romance elements. It is the lack of conviction, a set of problems in the script, in the formal aspects of the story and in the interpretations, that make Kompromat a film predictable, inconsequential and implausible at all times. Something that could have been and was not.
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