In France, terrorist groups and intelligence agencies battle in a merciless war everyday, in the name of radically opposed ideologies. Yet, terrorist and secret agents lead almost the same ... See full summary »
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In France, terrorist groups and intelligence agencies battle in a merciless war everyday, in the name of radically opposed ideologies. Yet, terrorist and secret agents lead almost the same lives. Condemned to secrecy, these masters of manipulation follow the same methods. Alex and Al Barad are two of them. The former is the head of the D.G.S.E.'s (Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure, the French equivalent of the CIA or the MI6) counter-terrorism unit while the latter reigns over a terrorist network, and both fight using the most ruthless of weapons: human beings. Secret Défense (aka Secrets Of State) tells of their secret war through the destinies of Diane, a student recruited by the French secret service, and Pierre, a troubled young man who thinks terrorism will bring him salvation. Trained and indoctrinated for missions which are beyond them, they are both drawn into a chain of events from which they seem incapable of escaping. While they both be sacrificed in the name of ... Written by
Philippe Haïm started working on this film by writing down everything he could about the D.G.S.E. (the French secret service) and the challenges and threats the agency seems to receive. He then proceeded to write three drafts of the script with the input of several consultants, after which co-writer Julien Sibony came in, and later Natalie Carter. Not knowing anything about the world of espionage and counter-terrorism, Sibony was able to see the script's weaknesses, such as when it was unclear for the uninitiated, and Carter was essential to develop Vahina Giocante's character Diane. In the end, the 18th draft was the shooting script, even though several changes were made while filming and even during the editing process. See more »
DGSE headquarters are shown in La Défense (west of Paris) whereas the real headquarters of the DGSE is in the eastern part of Paris See more »
What is bluntly visible in this French film is the American look. Actually it is not only the look - the whole approach taken by the film starting with its story and I dare say with its ideology, going through the rapid pace and crisp editing style and ending with the style of acting is borrowed from the American 'war on terror' movies. We even have some kind of a French equivalent of the CIA headquarters in this film. The most amazing things is however that the combination works. Philippe Haim is a talented director and his 'Secret Defense' is a good American thriller even if it is acted in French.
Recruiting a young and sexy woman who finds herself in some kind of distress and turning her into a spy is a theme that we have already met in the classical Nikita, and original French film turned into an American movie and than successful TV series. The world of Secret Defense is however today's France and Middle East, and a parallel thread develops the background of an abused criminal who falls of dark side of the war on terror. The paths of the two characters are to meet inexorably, and we know it from almost from the beginning. The smart and unfortunately true idea of the script is that both the good girl and the bad guy are victims, paws, foot soldiers in war machines that confront each other and eventually crush everybody who falls under their wheels.
The story has logic and the development of the main character played by Vahina Giocante is credible and does not lack an unexpected dose of sensitivity. There is one moment only when the accumulation of coincidences seemed to me to be hard to believe, but otherwise the story line and the excellent acting, the exact rendering of the various environments and the pace of action built upon interleaved threads contribute all to the good quality of a film that has an American look, and this time I am writing this appreciation on its positive meaning.
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