In director Robert Edwards’ satirical drama that would be much more entertaining if it weren’t so terrifyingly similar to the world we are living in, Ralph Fiennes plays a soldier trying to do the right thing against the power of a controlling government. The film also stars Lara Flynn Boyle and Donald Sutherland. We had the opportunity to speak with the director and his cast:
Q: It’s easy to say this satirizes the Bush White House, is that the case?
Edwards: The film is a bit of a Rorschach test. We didn’t want to spoon feed a political agenda. People bring their own point of view. It’s meant to be ambiguous.
Q: What is the relationship between evil and power and how is an evil character played?
Fiennes: When you are playing a part it is important that you know that your character does not see himself as evil.
Sutherland: The guy himself thinks he is correct.
Fiennes: The SS Officer I played in Schindler’s List was a horrendous person but we have to look at where that comes from and how society provokes that. We want to look at how evil comes into being, especially totalitarian evil.
Q: In these political films, do you model yourself after anyone?
Sutherland: No model. My character is not taken from anybody. He existed as a man and reacted to the changes that occurred to him. He made decisions that he believed were correct. Power corrupts. And in the case of Bill Clinton, absolute power makes you really horny…(the room laughs at this remark from left field).
Boyle: I look to play ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. Scenes are fun because they are meaty and have a lot of potential. Its fun to view it at the end once edited and put together properly.
How was it filming in London?
Boyle: I love everything about it. I love where I live in Hollywood but second to that is London. The crews were so great and grateful. Forget all the talk about movie magic, these crews work hard. After a fourteen hour day I would sometimes say to these crews, at least I get to be famous, what do you get?
Sutherland: I like working in studios.
What is the value of a political movie?
Fiennes: It’s not about rewarding ourselves and its all nice. As we sit here there are appalling things going on. Putin is using KGB style tactics to manipulate. There are killings in Darfur daily. The British government is implementing these ID cards that will give them access to everything! This is really scary! It’s not about actors going off and making a political statement. This is really urgent. I mean this is really fucking important! We need to get angry!
Sutherland: Audiences are much more complacent today.
Fiennes: I don’t know if audiences today are more accepting of films like this. We are seeing a number of films with a clear political statement so there must be a feeling. Film is a great avenue for a debate because it gets inside like no other media. After 9/11 there are extreme laws being passed. I feel for the first time that the world is getting dangerously unhinged.
Sutherland: It is – no question.
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