Spies uncloaked in new film and no, it's not "Salt"

Thu Jul 15, 2010 10:01am EDT
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By Christine Kearney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Ever since 10 Russian spies were arrested in the United States last month in what seemed a throwback to the Cold War, people have wondered how the secretive sleuths still can be operating in 2010.

Maybe they should see the new movie, "Farewell."

The French film is an espionage thriller inspired by the little-known story of KGB colonel Vladimir Vetrov, code-named Farewell, who is depicted as providing classified information that led to the expulsion of Russian spies from the U.S. and other countries around the world in the 1980s.

And "depicted as providing" is an apt description of what Vetrov did, because to this day, there is no official version of the events of his secretive life.

The espionage drama hits U.S. theaters on July 23, the same day as big-budget Hollywood flick "Salt" starring Angelina Jolie as a CIA officer accused of being a Russian spy.

But moviegoers might think of "Farewell" as pepper, when compared to "Salt," a big-budget movie with A-list Hollywood stars and a huge promotional budget. "Farewell," by contrast, was made on a modest budget by a French director using French and Serbian actors.

Early reviews have been kind, and if audiences truly want to know about Cold War-style espionage, which obviously still exists today, there is more than one film in theaters.

"If this were a ramped-up American production, it would, given its subject matter, be one of the most heavily promoted films of the year," said veteran critic Todd McCarthy at movie website IndieWire.   Continued...

<p>Angelina Jolie in a scene from "Salt". The film stars Jolie as a CIA officer accused of being a Russian spy. REUTERS/Columbia Pictures</p>