A Timeless True Story
Acclaimed director Agnieszka Holland calls Mr. Jones ďa tale about fake news, alternative realities, corruption of the media, cowardness of governments, indifference of people.Ē She believes the movie tells an important timeless story. And I agree with her. Although set on the eve of WWII, this thriller reminds us of today's need for courageous journalists like Gareth Jones, who discovered the truth about the Soviet propaganda machine and dared to risk his life by writing about it.
As Gareth Jones, James Norton (Belle) projects the ambition, energy, determination and passion needed for a demanding role like this. Because I became a fan of Nortonís while watching Manchester on PBS, I am not surprised at the high quality of his acting in Mr. Jones. Itís an award-worthy performance.
Supporting cast members also deserve recognition. Stand-outs are: Peter Sarsgaard (An Education) as the opportunistic New York Times Moscow Bureau Chief Walter Duranty; Joseph Mawle (Game of Thrones) as Animal Farm author George Orwell; and Vanessa Kirby (Me Before You) as Ada Brooks, a reporter who supports Jones.
This cinematic offering takes us on a strange, ugly journey. So much is happening on screen, which sometimes makes us feel disoriented. But the film unfolds with fervent storytelling, thanks to Hollandís guiding hand and a screenplay written by Andrea Chalupa Ė whose grandfather not only survived Stalinís genocide famine that killed an estimated 4 or 5 million people but also was tortured by the Soviet secret police during Stalinís purges. Fortunately, he wrote down his story to document these tragic experiences.
Mr. Jones, a Wales journalist,
sought actual facts in the mist.
Propaganda he searched behind.
Unsettling truths this man did find.
Others bought into Stalinís plan.
But Jones was not that manís big fan.
He viewed the misery in Ukraine
and wrote about it with disdain.
George Orwell piggybacked on this.
ANIMAL FARM, you must not miss.
"Mr. Jones" may be hard to see.
But check out this smart history.
Gruesome scenes? You can close your eyes.
Other scenes are full of surprise.
James Norton becomes Jones for sure.
His performance will long endure.
Challenging film, oh yes indeed.
Probably one we need to heed.
The clash of Jonesís courage and determination against Durantyís cynical opportunism and cowardice is still validÖToday, we donít lack corruptible conformists and egoists; we lack Orwells and Joneses. Thatís why we brought them back to life. Ė Agnieszka Holland
(Released by Samuel Goldwyn Films. Not rated by MPAA.)