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Official Secrets

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United Kingdom, United States · 2019
Rated R · 1h 52m
Director Gavin Hood
Starring Keira Knightley, Matt Smith, Ralph Fiennes, Adam Bakri
Genre Drama, Thriller, History

The true story of British intelligence whistleblower Katharine Gun, who prior to the 2003 Iraq invasion leaked a top-secret NSA memo that proposed blackmailing member states into voting for war. Exposing a joint US-UK illegal spying operation against members of the UN Security Council, Katherine is charged with violating the Official Secrets Act.

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What are people saying?

Ting Shing Koh Profile picture for Ting Shing Koh

Keira Knightley shines in this film as a whistleblower on trial. The complex emotions were very well-delivered as you can't help but root for her throughout the thrilling progression of events.

What are critics saying?


Variety by Amy Nicholson

The crux of Gun’s struggle is that she risked everything to tell the truth, and the war happened anyway. Ultimately, her personal story was neither uplifting, nor tragic, which means the film surrounding her doesn’t hurtle toward a satisfying arc.


The Guardian by Benjamin Lee

Official Secrets is a well-intentioned retelling of a daunting act of courage and as a vehicle for informing more people of who Katharine Gun is, it’s effective, carefully laying out the incremental stakes as well as her noble intentions. Credit for this however lies almost solely with Knightley.


The Hollywood Reporter by David Rooney

Hood (Eye in the Sky), his co-screenwriters Sara and Gregory Bernstein and a seasoned ensemble of Brit stage and screen pros deliver a straightforward, solidly old-fashioned slice of real-life espionage, journalistic and legal intrigue that gets the job done in engrossing, clear-eyed fashion even if it lacks much in the way of stylistic verve.


New York Post by Johnny Oleksinski

Ralph Fiennes as Gun’s eventual lawyer, however, is totally forgettable, as is much of the standard-issue, self-important docudrama. So much of Gregory Bernstein, Sara Bernstein and Gavin Hood’s screenplay arrives with a thud that it might’ve been written with clenched fists. Knightley’s overwrought performance doesn’t help either.


Los Angeles Times by Kenneth Turan

A model of professionalism and energy, Official Secrets moves along at a brisk clip. It’s paced like a police procedural, but it focuses not on an investigator but rather a moral exemplar who takes a principled stand in defiance of the price that has to be paid.


TheWrap by Robert Abele

A capably rendered, urgently argued portrait in courage that never quite rises above curious-footnote status.


Movie Nation by Roger Moore

Official Secrets, despite its blasé title, despite the fact that this “true” story isn’t on a LeCarre level, in spite of its paucity of dramatic outbursts, is still a most engrossing history reminder.


Screen International by Tim Grierson

Director Gavin Hood gives the proceedings a rousing electricity, and he’s aided by a cast which leans into the story’s urgency and continued relevance.

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