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Home > Movies > Farewell (L'affaire Farewell)

Farewell (L'affaire Farewell)

Critic's Pick Critics' Pick

(No longer in theaters)
  • Rating: No Rating
  • Director: Christian Carion   Cast: Guillaume Canet, Emir Kusturica, Alexandra Maria Lara, Ingeborga Dapkunaite, Dina Korzun
  • Running Time: 113 minutes
  • Reader Rating: Write a Review




Christophe Rossignon


Neoclassic Films

Release Date

Jul 30, 2010

Release Notes


Official Website


The week’s second Russki spy picture, Christian Carion’s Farewell (originally L’Affaire Farewell), is less incandescent but far more enlightening. I’m shocked that I didn’t know the story of Vladimir Vetrov (code name: Farewell), a Soviet colonel who, in 1981 and ’82, turned over to French intelligence the identities of enough spies to deal the KGB a near-fatal blow—and ultimately help Ronald Reagan claim credit for winning the war on Communism. Vetrov is here called Sergei Grigoriev and played by Serbian director Emir Kusturica as a rumpled grouch with a fondness for haute French culture and a conviction that the Soviet Union has been so poisoned by fools and blackguards that the only hope is sweeping the board clean and beginning again. To keep the KGB off the scent, the French make Grigoriev’s Moscow contact a timid, rather neurotic bureaucrat, Pierre Froment (played by French director Guillaume Canet), and the pair’s uneasy relationship gives this deliberate, underpopulated movie an unexpected fullness. As children scramble up a statue of Lenin, Grigoriev proclaims that he’s risking his life for his son’s future, but his son disdains him for being out of touch and keeping a mistress. Froment is on tenterhooks at the prospect of imperiling his own family. As both men lie to loved ones to keep their exchange alive, the tension builds and becomes unbearable.

In the great cast, Fred Ward plays Reagan as not just engaged but swaggering and overexcitable—a fun revisionist performance. But this is Kusturica’s movie. Grigoriev’s once-chiseled face is sagging, gone to seed, and he can’t seem to settle on a smirk or a scowl, on cynicism or righteous fury. Farewell gives Grigoriev a much more sentimental last act than his real-life counterpart, who stabbed his mistress in a parked car and killed a KGB colleague. But Kusturica is so brooding and subtle that a turn like that would seem … movie-ish.

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