Highly realistic but not-so-very-exciting spy movie
If one should value a film like "Le transfuge" for anything, it's for that extremely high level of down-to-earth, everyday realism that (French) cinema seems to have lost somewhere in the mid-eighties, when the pictures on the screen turned more smooth and stylized, reaching its peak during the present day. The opening scene makes this very clear: the images of the airport with the shrill sound of the plane engines and the routine of the luggage being thrown onto the conveyor belts are so realistic it's almost like watching a documentary. The theme of the movie itself gave me similar feelings, by the way. The goings-on of just some business man and the secret service are presented in such a matter-of-fact way you almost forget you're watching a work of fiction. The explanatory text appearing on the screen between scenes from time to time endorses the viewer's sentiments in this department. Being of a similar theme as for instance "Das Leben der Anderen", "Le transfuge" is of some value as a history lesson to those who have never lived through the times of the old East-West animosity. We get a good insight into the political situation in the DDR, the sentiments of its population, as well as the peculiar and oftentimes sordid methods of the authorities. Watch and learn would be a befitting message to accompany this movie. The downside of realism in movies could be the sacrifice it potentially makes to the entertainment value. I must admit I found the story to develop rather tamely during the first hour. There are only a few proper action scenes in "Le transfuge", which adds to the realism, but not to the excitement factor. Fortunately, the long-desired twist in the plot occurred during the last 30 minutes, which pleased me greatly for two reasons: it made the film more intriguing AND even more realistic at the same time. It's this twist that persuaded me to rate the film 7/10 instead of a meagre 6/10.
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