The best new movie being released this week, “Operation Mincemeat”, isn’t arriving theaters. It debuts
on Netflix (Wednesday 11 May). After an Oscar qualifying one-week theatrical run that began last week
in Los Angeles and NYC, “Operation Mincemeat” is poised to become an early Oscars frontrunner for
Best Adapted Screenplay. From Oscar nominated director John Madden (“Shakespeare In Love”), this
film (based on the book by Ben Macintyre) tells a true story that is far stranger than fiction.
Until I watched this film, the suggestion that a film’s story alone could be the star of the movie never
crossed my mind.
Here we have a WWII picture. The Allies are preparing to invade mainland Europe in 1943, but
desperate to avoid the slaughter of their troops by the German forces that they knew would be waiting
for them in Sicily. To have a miniscule chance at not having their troops obliterated, with the blessing of
Winston Churchill, they hatched a plan to dupe the Nazis into believing that they would land in Greece
rather than Sicily.
It falls to two intelligence officers, Ewen Montagu (Oscar winner Colin Firth, “The King’s Speech”) and
Charles Cholmondeley (Matthew Macfadyen, Tom in HBO’s “Succession”) to dream the most inspired
and improbable disinformation strategy of the war — revolving around the most unlikely of secret
agents: a dead man. If you’re thinking this is a hokey, “Weekend At Bernie’s” type of film, you’d be
The lengths that the top-secret task force go to in order to turn this dead man into a fictional but
believable character (a soldier who is supposed to wash ashore with a letter rife with disinformation) are
all as equally as important if they have any chance at succeeding with their plan. One of the countless
deceptions involves an eyelash, a love letter, and a wax seal.
The fictional origins of this very true plot are very strong and were dreamed up by none other than Ian
Fleming (Johnny Flynn), who of course went on to create the worldwide, bestselling James Bond novels.
Emmy winner Kelly Macdonald and “Downton Abbey’s” Isobel Crawley (Penelope Wilton) costar as two
very important women – secretaries – in the British Army.
“Saving Private Ryan” this is not. There are no bombs bursting in air, no disemboweled bodies that need
to be retrieved from a battlefield, no teenage boys fighting for their countries but also crying for their
mothers. Instead, there are words, two hours’ worth, that are written so eloquently and that effortlessly
roll off the tongues of those tasked to utter them, the viewer may not hit the pause button on their
remote control while watching, let alone require two or three sittings to watch the movie in its entirety.
While the story may be the star of the film, the human stars of the film are all at the top of their games.
Firth, who started acting on the big screen at the age of twenty-three in the art house hit “Another
Country,” is also in the new HBO series based on a true story, “The Staircase.” Wilton appears on the big
screen next week in “Downton Abbey: A New Era.”
Even though a fair number of people living today know how this true story ends, it matters not. The
hundreds of millions of people around the world that enjoyed the movie “Titanic” all knew how it ended
before going in.
However, I will not give away the ending to this film, because I am confident that the majority reading
this review and who will watch the movie do not know how it ends. I did not. And not knowing how the
story ends made it all the more exciting to watch.
Operation Mincemeat Review By Tim Nasson