From the director of Joyeux Noël comes this Cold-War spy thriller based on the real-life escapades of a KGB analyst, codenamed “Farewell,” who passes secrets to the French. Serbian actor-director Emir Kusturica (Život je čudo/Life is a Miracle) is terrific as the KGB officer, and another actor-director, Guillame Canet (Jeux d’enfants, Ne le dis à personne), ably portrays a French engineer who acts as an intermediary in the KGB officer’s communications.
There’s a cameo from Diane Kruger, and Willem Dafoe is great in a bit part as the simmering head of the CIA, but the casting of Ronald Reagan (character actor Fred Ward, Naked Gun 33⅓, Short Cuts) is hilariously bad—ditto Gorbachev. Aside from those missteps, L’affaire Farewell (its more direct original title) plods along at a fairly steady pace. Although there’s nothing particularly striking about the way it’s put together, this is a neat, compact (if by-the-numbers) enjoyable espionage thriller.