The slow build up of intensity is directed masterfully by Hood, and makes the piece the engaging and powerful film it becomes

Creating a thrilling blend of politics and intensity, Official Secrets is Gavin Hood’s new feature, highlighting the whistle-blowing that took place, just before the UK and the US started the 2004 war in Iraq.

Katharine Gun (Kiera Knightly), an employee of GCHQ, chooses to leak a secret memo when she believes its importance is key to potential war in Iraq. Yet, when it makes headlines in the UK and abroad, she feels the need to reveal herself, to not only prove the memo’s validity, but also increase the weight of how important the memo could be to saving so many innocent lives.

What the piece seems to manage expertly, is the slow opening up of how enormous the issue was, and the effect the memo had on the nation. Official Secrets documents a serious breach of power and trust, and moves from its early stages as one woman’s fight against the system, to all out exposure of a corrupt political system. The slow build up of intensity is directed masterfully by Hood, and makes the piece the engaging and powerful film it becomes. 

Official Secrets 2

Constantly evolving, offering new characters with fascinating viewpoints, Official Secrets tries to encompass every part of the story that makes it so fascinating. With so many pieces, it should perhaps have been more difficult that Hood makes it look, showing great prowess as a director and as an organiser. Official Secrets hides its large scale particularly well. 

Knightly opens the piece at a tense pace with her performance as the whistle blower Katharine Gun, but the feature quickly becomes a group piece, and that ramping up of character runs well with the open story. It’s a film with such an enormous drive, it’s difficult to not just forget but to disagree with. 

Official Secrets is absolutely a political statement, but one based on facts and retellings with real impetus. It’s hard to disagree with something that is so passionate despite remaining wonderfully true to the truth, and Official Secrets makes a fascinating point whilst gripping tight to all of its flowing integrity. 

4/5

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