Timely in its examination of Nazi sympathies within France, The Statement never delves too deeply into the pitch-black heart of its premise. Instead, it plays out like a drab middlebrow thriller. Pierre Brossard (Michael Caine), a former Vichy police officer and Nazi collaborator, has been avoiding his war crimes by hiding out in various safe houses and sanctuaries. Plagued with guilt and seeking repentance, this wily old monster goes on the run again, chased across the country by avenging assassins as well as a justice-seeking judge (Tilda Swinton) and her army escort (Jeremy Northam). Chock-full of British character actors (who don’t even bother tacking on false French accents) and directed with even-handed stateliness by Norman Jewison, The Statement is a political thriller without bite. Caine offers a few memorable moments as the mousy, grotesque killer, offering brittle prayers to the heavens at every turn, and shares a memorable scene with Charlotte Rampling, who stars as Brossard’s long-estranged wife. Just as you think this routine chase film might turn into a Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf with fascist undertones, Rampling disappears as fast as she arrived and The Statement pushes limply toward its inevitable moral-minded finale.
Like the film, an audio/visual presentation that’s completely unspectacular. The general lack of edge enhancement is impressive but some shimmering is noticeable throughout and the image overall is so soft and muted as to suggest we’re watching something from the late ’70s (like, say, The Boys From Brazil). The Dolby Digital 5.1 surround track keeps things equally unspectacular: dialogue is clear, but since there isn’t much else going on here, everything sounds as if it was dumped on the same channel.
I don’t know if this is Norman Jewison’s first commentary track, but it sure as hell sounds as if it is, at least judging by comments like "This is the camera telling the story." Does he think he’s Hitchcock or does he think first-year filmmakers who’ve never seen a film in their life are listening in? Then again, he could be so bored by what he sees that he’s just killing time. Next up is a deleted scenes montage clocking in at five minutes, "A Conversation with Michael Cane" and "A Conversation with Norman Jewison" (both sitting on the not-so-personable junket chair with the questions flashed on the screen), a making-of featurette that allows other cast members to talk about how wonderful everyone is, and trailers for Blind Spot: Hitler’s Secretary, The Company, The Fog of War, The Statement and The Triplets of Belleville.
A banal audio/visual presentation for a banal film.