Farewell (2009)
"L'affaire Farewell" (original title)

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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 5,371 users   Metascore: 74/100
Reviews: 30 user | 73 critic | 25 from Metacritic.com

The French intelligence service alerts the U.S. about a Soviet spy operation during the height of the Cold War, which sets off an unfortunate chain of events.


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Philippe Magnan ...
Choukhov (as Oleksii Gorbunov)
Marc Berman ...
Christian Carion ...
Evgeniy Kharlanov ...
Igor (as Yevgeni Kharlanov)
Lauriane Riquet ...


In 1985, Sergei Gregoriev, a Soviet colonel, wants to force his nation to reform, so he leaks secret information to the West. He picks an unlikely contact, a Pierre Froment, French nebbish in the diplomatic corps. Gregoriev keeps a lot of balls in the air - a marriage, a teen son he's trying to bond with, a mistress who's a colleague at work; his tradecraft is equally reckless. Meanwhile, Froment keeps his spy work secret from his German wife, and Mitterrand uses Gregoriev's information to make France indispensable to Reagan and his government. When Gregoriev leaks a list of key Soviet moles and spies, Gorbachev is left without secret intelligence. Will Gregoriev get what he wants? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

spy | french | cold war | france | aids | See All (15) »


Secrets have the power to change the course of history.


Drama | Thriller


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Release Date:

23 September 2009 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Farewell  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


€17,500,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Alexander Avdeev (Russian ambassador in France who became Russian Culture Minister and who had been expelled from France in 1983 because of Farewell) blocked most Russian actors to play in this movie, including Sergey Makovetskiy and Nikita Mikhalkov, because he did not want to back a movie about a Russian traitor. He also blocked authorizations to film in Moscow, while most of the plot takes place in Moscow. Christian Carion had to pretend to film a Coca Cola advertisement for the few images of the city. See more »


In a scene identified as taking place in April 1981, Grigoriev's son listens to the Queen/David Bowie song "Under Pressure." The song was not recorded until July 1981, released in October 1981. See more »


Features The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) See more »


Steppin' Out
Performed by Joe Jackson
See more »

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User Reviews

Taut and well made spy period thriller; a mood piece negotiating a large web of complications in an astute fashion.
6 November 2011 | by (Hampshire, England) – See all my reviews

Farewell is the wrought piece of espionage spy fiction you didn't really expect to be as good as it is; as is often the case, films and film-makers take it upon themselves to entrust that elements of espionage and distrust between superpowers, or people therein epitomising superpowers, should make for crash-bang, explosive viewing involving very little narrative; very little character and a whole lot of wooden spectacle. It is with open arms then, that we welcome in Christian Carion's 2011 film Farewell; the anti-thesis to Mission Impossible: II or a badly drawn Bond film of the post-Dalton era. The film is one of its ilk that happens to have both a soul and a brain; these characters are people involved in international espionage and some rather dangerous stuff, but they are people involved in such things whilst doing their utmost to maintain families; they are people involved in what they're in, of whom enjoy playing tennis and reading poetry and listening to Queen – they are human beings; they can be overweight; they can wear glasses; they can relax by watching a Western, they are not stock action heroes of a ridiculously photogenic nature; they are not James Bonds darting around in sports cars out-peddling a space orientated laser beam.

The scene epitomising how Farewell really is different to most others of its ilk arrives with a snappy sequence set on a park bench between two people; as might be considered standard with any film of this ilk, we witness such a sequence that is often the first thing people think of when certain genre buzz words are mentioned. Here, the already seated man witnesses another slump down next to him so that they may continue their business – business which would result in serious ramifications should either of them be caught. Instead of cutting to the chase and prolonging causality, the new arrival first mutters about how he hates the fact he is having an affair with someone away from his marriage; that his son knows all about it and, he feels, hates him as a result. Such is the film's nature to take something familiar to the genre, or something with which we will identify, and spin it around to encompass character; to encompass problems away from what would usually be the sole and lone body of content; to take an instance as stereotypical as two blokes meeting on a park bench and incorporate some sort of air of both naturality and substance to proceedings.

The sense that we're being treated like adults begins with the opening sequence, a procession of found footage depicting numerous things Cold-war orientated ranging from shots taken from the fronts of the Vietnam War to numerous technological advancements of the 1970s alluding to the Space Race. All of it is Cold-War orientated and it arrives without voice-overs informing us of what's what and why we're seeing what we're seeing; there is no brief expositional history lesson. Guillaume Canet pays Pierre Froment, an engineer living in Russia with his family of wife and young daughter; the man observes a television set displaying a McEnroe-Borg tennis match, this sense of there being a fondness for that of duelling; a fondness of keeping up with how two super-powers in a respective field are getting along in their long, intense rivalry prominent.

The film is a double-stranded piece, a piece flicking between two men occupying Moscow in the early 1980s doing their utmost to transfer information from secretive sources onto the Americans, and that of the American president of the time in Ronald Reagan (Ward), no less, who dishes it out to his international colleagues, particularly that of then-French Socialist President François Mitterrand (Magnan), when he isn't confining with his own. Pierre's friend is Emir Kusturica's large, life-weary Soviet native to their surroundings Sergei Gregoriev; a man with his own wife and son with whom he does not get along. Sergei uses Pierre as a half-way house in his delivering of top-secret Soviet intelligence which eventually make their way through to the upper-echelons of The White House, a premise spun out by director Carion to really good effect as we delve into this world of lies and power-play.

In spite of the two strands and the array of characters, ranging from this lowly Frenchman to the President of the United States himself, it is Pierre's film; a man caught up in this mucky pool of grime and maltrust and having it go on to affect his home life and general well-being. In a subway fairly early on, it is established how efficient and how clinical the police state work; their picking up of an unknown woman after the insinuation Pierre is in trouble reiterates what he is up against - the verbal establishment beforehand of Pierre's inexperience within this field follows that of Sergei's infiltrating of the backseat to his car with enough ease to fool Pierre as to his even being there. In this regard, the tension is often palpable; if for the fact we often fear Pierre's capture, something that would not stop the film from carrying on with one of its other equilibriums but as to whether his actions will destroy his exemplary home situation and those he holds dear to him. Farewell is the spy thriller peering in at the private lives of these people; the primary stuff about passing on information and keeping informants secret acting as a mere premise to fascinating accounts of how these people exist with themselves; with their families and with one another, the bulk of it making for really good value – you could sure do worse for a thriller.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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