Fifth about The Seventh

An Officer and a Spy (J’Accuse)

An Officer and a Spy: one of the many goals of art is to transmit a message; in that sense, the bearer and timing of such a message can be critical. It is, therefore, hard to overlook how much Roman Polanski is being self-serving in telling the story of one of the most famous unjustly accused men, Alfred Dreyfus. All this, in any case, is irrelevant in evaluating the work itself, other than how it informs Polanski’s creative choices. The film itself turns out to be a methodical, detailed narrative, essentially a procedural; it is correct, but it’s also unexciting and unengaging. Furthermore, the characters are likewise flat, dull. The performances are appropriately stiff, formal, which makes sense considering the time period but feeds back into the film’s lack of energy; within that context, Jean Dujardin is fine. Efficient production design by Jean Rabasse, costume design by Pascaline Chavanne, both well captured by the conventional camera work of Pawel Edelman. Alexandre Desplat’s music is sparse and sober.

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