Kompromat (2022)

Image via affrenchfilmfestival.org

Rules for escaping a totalitarian state: 1) Don’t use a mobile phone; 2) Don’t use a mobile phone to call the daughter-in-law of your pursuer; 3) Don’t use a torch when crossing a patrolled border at night. And a hot tip – Siberian aluminium foil is the bomb!

Matthieu (Gilles Lellouche) is an astoundingly clueless French professional in Irkutsk – head of the Alliance Français and seemingly blind to his wife’s unhappiness and all Siberian/Russian cultural mores. Arrested by the FSB on trumped up but very serious charges, he chooses to escape over abuse in prison and a guaranteed conviction.

He (and we) are never sure why he has been arrested – for staging a homoerotic ballet, for dancing with the aforementioned daughter-in-law, maybe for displeasing his dour housekeeper – but my bet is on his general cultural ignorance. Maybe that’s why he’s not the best escape artist or perhaps director Jérôme Salle thinks we won’t notice the plot holes.

There are some genuinely tense moments and Svetlana (Joanna Kulig who was so memorable in Cold War) adds some depth of character amidst Russians who are depicted as either brutes or drunkards.

It all resolves a bit too Disney and I can be forgiven for hoping that Matthieu might end up with hard labour.

Have you seen this film? My condolences. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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