Esther McCarthy reviews Official Secrets and Dark Lies the Island
Official Secrets (15A) ****
A translator for the British government who listened in on largely routine material for the state, Katharine Gun nevertheless was privy to a great deal of classified information.
She and her colleagues receive a directive from agency bosses to collect compromising information on some United Nations Security Council members. The reason? To blackmail them, if necessary, into voting in favour of an assault on Iraq.
Appalled by the decision, and through a friend and intermediary, Gun decides to expose the call rather than let her country stumble into a potentially illegal war. But her decision comes at a huge personal cost.
Gavin Hood’s old-school drama becomes something special, fleshing out the protagonists with the aid of a strong cast.
Dark Lies the Island (16) ***
A strong cast milk Kevin Barry’s pithy script for all its pitch-black comedic worth in this dark Irish drama.
Adapted by the author from the characters that feature in his own short stories, and directed by Ian Fitzgibbon, there’s plenty of mischief to be had here, but the film doesn’t quite hang together as a story.
Charlie Murphy is Sarah, a glamorous woman who is the second wife of Daddy Mannion (Pat Shortt), a fearsome man whose ego and wealth are fuelled by the fact that he owns many of the midlands town’s businesses.
But the younger Sarah once had a relationship with Daddy’s son (Peter Coonan) - and when she gets involved with another sibling (Moe Dunford), mayhem ensues. Flawed, by enjoyably mischievous.