A homely bit of international Cold War cloak-and-dagger, starring badly dressed bureaucrats instead of chic spies, Farewell is based on a vital early-’80s espionage break involving the KGB, the French intelligence agency DST and the CIA. Heads of all concerned governments appear in the film, but more attention is paid to the domestic lives of the reluctant agents as they’re infected by the habit of deception.

Emir Kusturica plays Sergei Gregoriev, a Soviet colonel disillusioned by Yuri Andropov’s Soviet Union, living off hopes for his son’s future and fond memories of an old appointment in Paris. In exchange for a little conversational French, Gregoriev begins leaking information about the overseas spy network to Pierre, an engineer working in Moscow (Guillaume Canet).

That information trickles down to Ronald Reagan, played by the great Fred Ward, who seems always to be watching The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, one of the key texts in a film that emphasizes the part that culture plays in loyalty, along with 19th-century writer Alfred Victor de Vigny and Queen, which Sergei’s teenage son is seen rocking out to on his contraband Walkman, a scene infused with the promised freedom implicit in decadent Western pop.

Categories: Movies