The Official Secrets Act: 1989, Act of Parliament, UK, removing the public interest defense, prohibiting disclosure of official documents, considered sensitive by the government; in 2003 Katharine Gun (imposing performance by Keira Knightley) working as a translator for GCHQ (NSA), after huge trepidation leaks a memo implying that the George W. Bush Administration (Tony Blair, complicit) was manufacturing egregious inadequacies; spying on U.N. Security Council members blackmailing them in voting “yes” for the Iraqi war; confessing her culpability, authorizing her idealism, altruism, to transcend her husband’s, “Yasar” (sensitive portrayal by Adam Bakri), a Kurdish Turk, seeking British citizenship, her cloudy future as a “whistleblower”; Knightley brings to the fore Katharine’s fear, uncertainty, but primarily her stalwart resolve, despite consummate political threats, denouncements; never wavering in recognizing her act was for the greater good.
Writers Sara Bernstein and Gregory Bernstein with director Gavin Hood present a tightly wrought, supremely intelligent expose that will be savored and diagnosed by keenly inquisitive audiences; Weapons of Mass Destruction pulsate at the epicenter of Gun’s decision; never found; Saddam Hussein intrepidly used chemical weapons against Iranians and Kurdish peoples during and after the Iran-Iraq war; in finality Hussein might have felt safer in licensing his neighbors to question the viability of the rumors.
Journalist Martin Bright (penetrating performance by Matt Smith, “The Crown”) of London’s war supporting “Observer” courageously uncovering subterfuge, obfuscation, prints the “memo”; “Official Secrets” gains marvelous, gutsy momentum and Gun’s heroism escalates; her lawyer Ben Emmerson (another Ralph Fiennes finessed characterization) finds the fissures in the government’s claims.
Infamous Daniel Ellsberg (The Pentagon Papers, 1971) heralded Katharine Gun as a valorous champion “telling secret truths at personal risk, before an imminent war, in time, possibly to avert it.”
“Official Secrets”, at its most clairvoyant, is a portrait of the power of one, to reorient the many.