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Review: Triple Agent (2004)

Directed by: Eric Rohmer | 115 minutes | drama, thriller | Actors: Katerina Didaskalou, Serge Renko, Amanda Langlet, Cyrielle Clair, Grigori Manukov, Emmanuel Salinger, Dimitri Rafalsky, Jeanne Rambur, Vitalyi Cheremet, Bernard Peysson, Laurent Le Doyen, Emilie Fourrier, Alexander Koltchak,

Director Eric Rohmer based ‘Triple Agent’ on a true espionage incident in the Russian expatriate environment in 1930s Paris. However, he has not turned it into a spectacular story with chases, fights and stunt work. ‘Triple Agent’ is above all a psychological drama, in which moral dilemmas are put forward. How Many Lies Can a Marriage Take? And which political system is more objectionable: Nazism or Stalinism? These are issues that Rohmer exposes in this film.

Rohmer can rightly be called an old hand in the trade. He was born Jean-Marie Schérer in Nancy in 1920. Initially a writer and critic, he began a career as a filmmaker in the late 1950s. At first he was not very successful in that area. His 1959 debut film, ‘Le signe du lion’, was not released in cinemas until 1962, and was a huge flop. Only in 1967 he received recognition for his film ‘La collectioneuse’. This film was part of a six-part series, “Six contes moreaux”, made between 1962 and 1972. In these stories, the main characters are each faced with an ethical choice. After ‘Six contes moreaux’, Rohmer has made several series of feature films with a central theme. The last series, ‘Contes des quatre saisons’, was completed in 1998. Between this series and ‘Triple Agent’ is ‘L’Anglaise et le Duc’, a film set during the French Revolution.

Over the years, Rohmer’s style has always remained the same: conversation pieces with lively dialogues and extremely realistic characters. Conversations between the various main characters are also central in ‘Triple Agent’. In this way, as the story progresses, it becomes painfully clear that Fyodor Voronin is twisting facts to disguise the truth. His true nature remains hidden behind his eloquence.

and Katerina Didaskalou have been excellently cast as Fjodor and Arsinoé. Renko radiates a certain emotionlessness and stiffness, which can be expected from an unapproachable person like Fyodor Voronin. Like Arsinoé, Didaskalou is his opposite: warm, lively and engaging. This Greek actress was previously seen in ‘Captain Corelli’s Mandolin’ (2001).

As a psychological drama ‘Triple Agent’ is very successful. The characters are well explored. However, the thread of the story is formed by certain ideas, not events. The of Fyodor’s unmasking and Arsinoé’s arrest is quickly settled. In fact ‘Triple Agent’ is a in which there is a lot of talk, but little happens. And that is not bad at all in this case.

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