Official Secrets recalls the prosecution of real-life whistle-blower Katharine Gun (Keira Knightley, Colette, The Imitation Game, Anna Karenina), a story that might otherwise be a footnote in the campaign that led to the March 2003 invasion of Iraq by British and American troops. The film offers a behind-the-scenes account of events from the perspectives of Gun and the journalists and lawyers that warn of the perilous state of democracy at times of war.
Gun was a young translator at the United Kingdom’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ). George W. Bush, President of the United States, and Tony Blair, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, were doing everything in their power to secure a United Nations resolution to sanction war. As part of that effort, the United States’ National Security Agency sent a memo to GCHQ with an order to gather information on diplomats from certain nations so they could fix the UN vote and protect themselves from being charged with any unlawful acts.
Gun is reluctant to follow the order, knowing that the case for war has yet to be proven. Weighed down by her conscience, she risks everything and leaks the memo in the hopes of stopping the war—but no one can stand in its way.
Did Gun break the law? Did she violate the UK’s Official Secrets Act? Is she a traitor? These are the motivating questions from here on out. Directed by Gavin Hood (Eye in the Sky, Tsotsi) and stacked with a who’s who of British acting heavyweights, Official Secrets is an examination of the meaning, value and act of loyalty.
“A sturdy, entertaining political thriller that pushes all the right buttons and triggers all the right outraged reactions.” (Tim Grierson, Screen International)
“Hood, his co-screenwriters Sara and Gregory Bernstein and a seasoned ensemble of Brit stage and screen pros deliver a straightforward, solidly old-fashioned slice of real-life espionage, journalistic and legal intrigue that gets the job done in engrossing, clear-eyed fashion.” (David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter)
“The film relies on its lead star and Knightley is more than equipped for the task of carrying it on her shoulders.” (Benjamin Lee, The Guardian)