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Film Fans rave about 'The Debt'

EDITOR'S NOTE: Film Fans features local residents reviewing the film of the week: "The Debt." Want to be a film fan? Email features@gwinnettdailypost.com. Current Film Fans, email features@gwinnettdailypost.com ASAP. We are updating our list of members.

4 out of 4 Stars

"The Debt," a remake of the Israeli 2007 film "Ha-Hov" (translated as "The Debt"), is a smart thriller with a timeless quality I haven't seen cinematically in a long time. The wardrobe looks authentic for the period, and the countries and scenes help to create a beautiful backdrop.

The story is largely told using memories from the past, but thankfully doesn't ping-pong back and forth from present to past. The premise of the movie unfolds graciously, focusing more on the mission of secret service agents than the grisly details of the Holocaust, which still plays an integral theme of the movie. The questions to ask are, "What is the debt, and to whom is it due? Who pays the debt and why?"

Jessica Chastain, who plays the lead role as the young Rachel, manages to add a depth of romance, unflinching courage and quick intelligence to her role. Helen Mirren, who plays Rachel in the present, really shines. In our youth-focused media, it's pleasant to see an older, seasoned actor master the screen.

This is a "must see" movie. Don't wait for the rental.

-- Cathryn Veal, Lawrenceville

3 and 1/2 out of 4 Stars

This is arguably one of the best movies of 2011. It is an extremely intelligent and a tediously designed film. The swing, story and chemistry chronicle three espionage operative figures from the mid-'60s whose mission is to bring the German "Surgeon of Birkenau" to justice for massive medical atrocities performed on innocent Jewish people. The actors are excellent, but Jessica Chastain, who plays the young Rachel, is clearly the most valuable player amongst a stellar cast of performers.

The movie is complex to follow since there is extensive use of effective flashbacks throughout. However, the story is one that is clear, riveting and suspenseful that slowly unfolds in bits and pieces.

Be warned though: The movie does have some gruesome scenes and is not suited for young ones. Finally, with this slick and sophisticated jewel, you may be looking straight at an Academy Award contender.

-- Rick Wright, Auburn

3 and 1/2 out of 4 Stars

Director John Madden did an expert job with "The Debt," magnificently starring Helen Mirren, Jessica Chastain, Jesper Christensen and Tom Wilkinson.

"The Debt" crosses 30 years, involving a trio of Israeli secret agents whose mission is to capture a dangerous Nazi war criminal in East Berlin. There's a tangled love affair, plenty of action, expansion of character development and a surprise ending. The three are venerated after the long ago mission, revered and hailed as heroes in their country after completing the incredibly hostile 1966 assignment. Their story begins to unravel when their adult daughter writes her mother's biography, and the truth of the mission is on the cusp of becoming exposed. The three are confronted with a moral and deeply personal dilemma to correct what should have been done long ago.

My movie buddy and I thoroughly enjoyed this movie, filled with intrigue and nothing short of brilliant acting.

-- Myra Simons, Buford