Farewell (‘L’Affaire Farewell’)

DRAMA; 1hr 52min (French and Russian with subtitles, English)

STARRING: Emir Kusturica, Guillaume Canet, Philippe Magnan, Fred Ward

Changing the world: from left, Kusturica and Canet

Based on real and gripping 1980s events that led to the collapse of the Soviet Bloc, Farewell recounts how a KGB colonel and a Moscow-based French engineer band together to help end the Cold War. Sergei Grigoriev (Kusturica) is a weary idealist, working within Brezhnev’s Communist system in order to bring it down. Pierre Froment (Canet) is an unwilling outsider, selected for his anonymity.


The KGB files to which Grigoriev has access are incendiary — key US-based Soviet spies are named along with KGB inside information on American military and technological strategies. Over two years, Presidents Mitterand (Magnan) and Reagan (Ward) set aside political differences to monitor the documents passed from Grigoriev — code name Farewell — to Froment and on to French Intelligence.


The two men’s collaboration would play a crucial part in redefining the political landscape. Yet the centre of gravity of director Christian Carion’s surprisingly intimate interpretation is the personal lives of the contradictory pair. For nervy bird Froment, courage becomes a matter of course, while impassively fearless Grigoriev is steadfast to the end, with the literal weight of the world upon him.