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"Triple agent", directed by Eric Rohmer, is a movie that is highly likely to intrigue you. Set in an interesting historical period (1936-37 France), and based more or less loosely on the true story of a Russian spy, this film comes alive thanks to splendid performances by a wonderful cast.
Fyodor Voronin (Serge Renko) is a Russian living in exile in Paris, with his beautiful Greek wife, Arsinoe (Katerina Didaskalu). Fyodor, a former general, seems to have a regular job with the Russian Army Veteran's Association, but according to some, he deals with secrets he shouldn't know about. Is he a secret agent? A double, even a triple agent? His wife doesn't know, and doesn't really seem to care too much. But how far is a little ignorance a good thing?
Trust and lies are at the center of this beautiful film, that benefits from the historical perspective given by small clips of news that from time interrupt the flow of the story. This is not my favourite film but Rohmer, but it is one that I enjoyed, despite the fact that I didn't specially enjoy the ending. Recommended...
- Belen Alcat, June 2007 -
PS: I give this film 3.5 stars. If you want to watch my favourite Rohmer film, give "L'ami de mon amie" a try.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Not your average spy filmDec 16 2006
Andres C. Salama
- Published on Amazon.com
Eric Rohmer makes a spy film - though as one critic puts it, that doesn't make him likely to be a front runner to direct the next James Bond movie. Set on 1936, under the shadow of the Popular Front victory in France's elections, and based on the real life case of Russian spy Nikolai Skoblin, the movie is mostly about people in closed rooms chatting about politics. But most of the talk seems intelligent and engaging (by the way, the movie follows the real case closely, if you believe the Wikipedia article about Skoblin). The actors are fine, as usual in Rohmer films - Renko is slippery as the titular spy, Didaskalu shines as his suffering and naive wife, Langlet seems lovely as the couple's communist neighbor. Now the Popular Front victory of the time probably means next to nothing to most people today - but it was probably a life moving experience for Rohmer - who was 16 at that time. In a way, this film is about Rohmer again settling scores against the French left, though thankfully, his conservative politics aren't as overbearing as in "The Lady and the Duke".
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
a very intellectual french filmFeb. 2 2007
- Published on Amazon.com
this is the story of a man who is caught in the web of his own political associations during a timeline which was influenced by great social and political changes.. Moreover, it is the tale of a couple forever changed by circumstances that seem to be above their control.. And when magnified further, it is the story of a couple who are quite communicative - yet not able to communicate about the central things which will change their lives..
This is my introduction to the French director Rohemer, I have not seen any of his films which some consider to be classic yet difficult films..
This movie certainly opens up my curiousity.. as it is such a well done and multifaced exploration of a time period - and also a lifestyle that deserves examination..
As others have noted this film is full of tedious conversations - it moves kind of slowly, but like the novels of Proust it is worth the effort.
This is my reason for the 4 star rating - it is not for everyone - but well worth the time..
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Communists and Nazis and the Popular FrontMay 27 2010
The Mysterious Traveler
- Published on Amazon.com
TRIPLE AGENT (2004) Directed and Written by Eric Rohmer. Starring Serge Renko.
It is France in 1936 and the Popular Front---the alliance of the Communists and various socialist and liberal parties--have just won the election and formed a govt under Leon Blum. This now means that the NKVD has free run of the country which is trouble for the White Russian emigre community living around Paris. Fyodor, though the second in command of that community, may also being working with the National Socialists of Germany or the NKVD of Communist Russia. Even his wife does not know.
A superlative and extremely unique historical French film that not only does it dramatize in detail a specific period in French history but, without ever leaving the rooms of the main characters, also addresses the Spanish Civil War, Reynardt Heydrich, Michael Tuchachevsky, the Great Terror and the eventual Alliance between Nazi Germany and Communist Russia. Though heavily fictionalized, the film is based on the true incident that happened with 1937 when a White general--with the connivance of the Socialist French govt--was kidnapped by the NKVD and murdered in Moscow. The film attempts explore whether the Fyodor character was responsible-----something even today is still unknown.
A fascinating, intelligent and shockingly honest film about Communism that simply could not and would not ever be made in this country. It is even shocking that the French would!!! The picture is pretty much being thrown into the deep end of the pool and told to swim for the historical novice but the film does take pains to make clear just what is going on with bubbling and insightful dialogue. Those familiar with the history already will enjoy themselves mightily. The acting....especially the two leads...is about as solid as could be. The direction and period feel is spot on AND the film is very much a throwback to a 30s/40s melodrama. There is no CGI nor wacky action sequences. Characters do not rut at the drop of a hat nor use obscene language like longshoreman. There is even an Iris fade in and out........something I have not seen in a film in decades!!
A truly perfect film and well worth the time of any serious movie or history fan. It is also that very rare thing....a truly brave and subversive film and should be supported.
Possibly the best film of that year and highly recommended.
Liberals should probably avoid though.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Eric Rohmer as an Acquired TasteDec 11 2006
- Published on Amazon.com
Eric Rohmer will undoubtedly sustain in cinema history as a unique writer and director of French films. He is far more interested in dialogue, conversation among his characters, and ideas than he is in plot or storyline development. His films affect many as too didactic, too much like a lecture series on current events or historical events to be considered a movie. Perhaps that is the case, as watching a Rohmer film takes total concentration and thinking.
Such is the case for his 2004 TRIPLE AGENT. Set in Paris of 1936-37, it is essentially a re-thinking of a true story that about a spy, a bit of history that is still unsolved. To understand this film requires a working knowledge of the political movements intertwining during the time: France's Popular Front, Hitler's rising influence in Europe, the Stalinist era, the Spanish Civil War with Franco and his adversaries, etc. The mix is all placed in the thoughts and discussions of Fyodor Voronin (Serge Renko), his Greek painter wife Arsinoé (Katerina Didaskalu) and their interactions with the changing people of the political ploys (played with sincere verve by Cyrielle Claire, Grigori Manukov, Dimitri Rafalsky, Nathalia Krougly, Amanda Langlet, Jeanne Rambur, Georges Benoît, Emmanuel Salinger among the large and confusing cast). The 'story' emerges from Fyodor's relationship to the political leanings that pull his attention away from Arsinoé and the complications of his physical structure with his intense involvement in the political and ideological climes.
The film works for those with enough savvy to catch all the intrigues of that period in European history. But for a film so completely dependent on rhetoric and smart dialogue this project suffers greatly from the poor subtitles: while most of the French is translated for us, much of the Russian and German is not, as though we all have access to those languages. The result is a static, dry, intense film in which much is lost due to technical flaws. The cast is excellent but the editing and clarity of each character's role falls by the wayside far too often. Rohmer's genius is there, but it is an acquired taste. Would that the viewer had the background knowledge somehow supplied to support the fine story that is being related! Grady Harp, December 06
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Beautifully acted and staged late RohmerSept. 20 2013
- Published on Amazon.com
Triple Agent (2004) is late Rohmer in a pre-second World War period piece based on a true event using fictional characters.Rohmer has done period pieces before like The Lady and the Duke (set at the time of the French Revolution).He comes at this from an unusual angle,White émigrés in Paris,escaping from the clutches of Stalin following the Russian civil war.Big players are in the antechamber of Europe,like Stalin,Hitler and Franco at the time of the Spanish Civil War.Communists,Socialists,Liberals are banding together in France under Leon Blum's Popular Front to unite against Fascism,by creating a movement of peace.Stalin has instigated the Great Purge, killing lots of military Generals,enemies,opponents,people through execution and murder in Russia,while pulling the strings of the French Communists and Socialists in France,getting them to unite.Spies are everywhere,Red Generals are being kidnapped and killed,people who are aware of Stalin's betrayal of Lenin's ideals.There is a complex network of spies as countries are circling one another warily.
Arsinoe(Katerina Didaskafu)is a stay-at-home Greek artist painting street genre scenes of people,while her Russian husband Fyodor(Sergei Renko),spends his days on ambiguous missions of diplomacy and intelligence.They are a loving couple,but its complicated by the fact she is apolitical,he feels compelled not to tell her what he's doing, for fear of implicating her if she's ever taken in for questioning.She makes friends of the Communist couple upstairs and offers to paint their daughter.She is naïve and sociable,not knowing who to trust,who to socialise with.Rhomer evokes the times through a judicious use of costumes,vintage cars,art works,newsreel footage documenting key events. With attention to logic and detail the plot is carefully arranged.Most espionage work occurring offscreen. This is no James Bond type action thriller,but through the explanations,rationales,dialogue between the various characters and the White Spy organization in Paris,we get a sense of large forces shaping up for the 2nd World War,The Nazi-Soviet Pact,the collusions between Fascists and Communists,most of all the romantic tensions between the married couple who don't ever know each others secrets,assumptions constantly changing.Painting is used to comment on Arsinoe's world view,until she finds herself too tragically enmeshed in current affairs to escape them.
As with nearly all of Rohmer's films, the camerawork is elegantly understated, with little camera movement and straight cuts, presenting a clear-eyed examination of his characters' emotions and reasoning. It's not a typical espionage film, but a subtly moving and complex one by an aged and masterful filmmaker.Wonderful.