Operation Mincemeat (2022)

 

Truth is often stranger than fiction, as Operation Mincemeat proves. It's based on the true story of a highly classified operation during WWII, when Churchill put his stamp of approval on a risky mission to deceive the Nazi high command into believing the British were going to invade Greece, to cover up their true Allied intentions.

 

It sounds like a crazy idea. Find a male body that could have died by drowning, put official documents in a briefcase, love letters in his pocket, create an entire identity for him, and then drop him in the waters outside Spain, to be taken ashore and turned over to the German spies crawling all over the country, and hope that the misinformation finds its way to the Nazi high command, leading them to fortify one province over another, so the British can invade without being killed in mass numbers. Everyone at the Admiralty thinks it's lunacy, including Admiral Godfrey (Jason Isaacs), except for the man who thought of it -- Charles Cholmondeley (Matthew Macfadyen). An awkward man who hasn't had much luck with the ladies, but who comes up with ridiculously decent ideas, he pushes for them to let him pursue this, despite all objections -- and gets Ewan Montagu (Colin Firth) on board. To make it convincing, they need the right kind of body, and then, to set everything in motion as fast as they can, before the body decomposes so much as to render the entire scheme suspicious. Along with the clever Jean (Kelly Macdonald), they create an entire "life" for this corpse, from his name, to the love story they tuck in his pocket -- a letter from a girl back home who longs to marry him as soon as possible. The fierce but also romantic Hester (Penelope Wilton) helps them figure out the details, all chronicled by young Ian Fleming (Johnny Flynn), the future author of the James Bond spy series.

 

But nobody believes in this scheme, time is running out, and there's a thousand things that could go wrong; if that happens, the Nazis could deceive them on a mass scale and potentially wipe out their forces. Even Churchill thinks this is a crazy idea... it's so insane, it just might work.

 

This film is a veritable garden of British cameos; I knew almost every player in the cast, from the minor roles to the leading men -- billed by Netflix as "two Mr. Darcys!" Everyone from Hattie Morahan to Nicholas Rowe turns up for a brief appearance or an extended stay, and all of them are exceptionally talented. Johnny Flynn is so good at Ian Fleming, I would welcome an entire series about him being involved in espionage and crafting his James Bond stories (he wouldn't write his first one for ten years, but that's beside the point). He narrates the film, which is funny, scary, and full of intensity provided you don't know the history. Over the years, various stories have filtered out of "Bletchley Park" that prove just how ingenious the English were, in trying to outsmart and out-scheme the Nazis. This is a fascinating story, in how intricately they had to construct a false identity for a dead man and think of a hundred different details to make him believable, from the ticket stubs in his pocket to the photograph close to his heart.

 

It can be overlong in places (it's a two and a hour hour film and doesn't have much action), and there is some cringe-worthy moments here and there, but I enjoyed it. It's not completely historically accurate, though -- the script invents a love triangle just to keep things interesting (although one of them is married at the time). There's no actual adultery, just a lot of emotional connectedness between two characters. There's not a lot of character development, so the characters never deepen that much, but there's also lovely moments that give us glimpses into their inner selves -- a statement that this person is "duty to the bone," or the soft moment of a "spinster" writing a heartfelt love letter that reveals what likely happened to her life (a loss in the earlier Great War). And it's fun to just watch for familiar faces... from just about every genre of British film in the last twenty years.

  

Sexual Content:

A married man and a young woman engage in an emotional affair (they spend a lot of time together, and look at each other longingly). A male spy kisses a female passionately to cover up them listening in on a conversation; she moans while they do so; a powerful man puts another man's hand on his gentiles accompanied by suggestive dialogue, and then moans as he's being 'stimulated.' A naked corpse lies on an exam table (nothing explicit shown).

 

Language:

Three f-words, several abuses of Christ's name, several abuses of God's name, and several uses of "bloody."

 

Violence:

We see a dead body several times, including them attempting to make it look alive while being photographed; a man performs an autopsy on it, and pulls out its bowels, causing a man to vomit. British troops storm a beach and are shot/killed/blown up in explosions.

 

Other:

Some social drinking, and vomiting.

Charity's Novels!

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