J’Accuse early reactions: Roman Polanski 'paints a subtly devastating portrait' of the Dreyfus Affair
J'accuse, adapted from Robert Harris' novel An Officer and a Spy, is about the persecution of the French Jewish army officer, Alfred Dreyfus
Roman Polanski's new film J'accuse (An Officer and a Spy) premiered at the Venice Film Festival on 30 August, despite backlash for its inclusion. The festival was accused of being out of touch in an era of #MeToo by including Polanski. The director, who was convicted for the statutory rape of a 13-year-old in 1978, did not attend the screening. Festival director Alberto Barbera had defended his decision to include Polanski, calling him "one of the last masters still active in European cinema."
J'accuse is about the persecution of the French Jewish army officer, Alfred Dreyfus. The film stars Louis Garrel, Jean Dujardin, Emmanuelle Seigner Grégory Gadebois, Mathieu Amalric, Damien Bonnard, Melvil Poupad, Denis Podalydès and Vincent Grass.
Here is what critics have to say about J'accuse.
The Guardian: "...An Officer and a Spy (adapted from the novel by Robert Harris), paints a subtly devastating portrait of the French general staff, with a stench of establishment sulphur that recalls Chinatown. It’s a solid, well-crafted piece of professional carpentry, like a heavy piece of Victorian furniture; built to last; built to be used. The longer you look at it, the more impressive it grows."
Variety: "It’s a meticulous production, made with robust confidence by the 86-year-old director, and I wish I could say it was Polanski working at peak form. (The last time he did that was The Ghost Writer.) But it’s a film that tells you things more than it gets you to feel them."
The Hollywood Reporter: "A watershed for French society that challenged its reverential attitude to the army and the ingrained anti-Semitism of the time, it is a story well worth telling, and Polanski, co-screenwriter Robert Harris (The Ghost Writer) and star Jean Dujardin (The Artist) do it with meticulously researched grace and ease. Yet the result is oddly lacking in heart and soul, almost as though a mask of military discipline held it in check."
The Wrap: "Any controversy that might erupt over Roman Polanski’s decision to implicitly equate himself with one of history’s greatest victims of injustice is dissipated by the resultant film’s tepid listlessness."
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