July 7, 2022

“It’s this unimaginable valentine to spy tales and the way they’ve a grip on us”: Screenwriter Michelle Ashford on Operation Mincemeat

On this multi-layered stranger-than-fiction espionage thriller, storytelling itself is as a lot its central topic as the flowery ruse a bunch of bureaucrats concocted to assist the Allies win in opposition to the Germans in WWII.

Operation Mincemeat takes as its premise occasions as depicted in a guide by Ben Macintyre, which that writer in flip based mostly on Ewen Montagu’s memoir and 1956 movie The Man Who By no means Was. To make issues much more meta, the thought for the ruse additionally got here from a novel, learn by Ian Fleming of all folks, who earlier than his James Bond penning days was himself an MI5 agent. In a nutshell, they sought to throw the Nazis off the scent of an invasion of Sicily by planting pretend paperwork alluding to an invasion of Greece on a corpse, made to look as if he was a soldier who had crash-landed and drowned.

Bringing it to life is an all-star forged led by ultimate-stiff-upper-lip Colin Firth as intelligence officer Montagu reverse the ever-brilliant Matthew Macfayden as Charles Cholmondeley – the pair shifting between comedy-duo and adversarial opponents from second to second – then Kelly Macdonald because the astute Jean Leslie, who finds herself the item of each their affections. Johnny Flynn places in one more spectacular flip, right here as Fleming, Jason Isaacs is a implausible admiral John Henry Godfrey, who was stated to have impressed Bond spy boss M, and they’re all steered by John Madden of Shakespeare in Love fame.

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It’s an immaculately realised interval movie within the vein of Darkest Hour or Munich: The Fringe of Struggle the place heroism just isn’t a soldier’s battle on the frontline nor embodied by a lone maverick outwitting his opponents, however a somewhat displayed by these within the shadows in a dusty basement, working collectively as a staff in opposition to the chances to alter the course of historical past. It additionally cleverly attracts out the function of ladies in such eras, who could have been shut out of boardrooms however nonetheless performed pivotal roles behind the scenes. And it splendidly celebrates each the enjoyment of storytelling and our shared love of spy thrillers, in addition to how getting artistic could be simply as highly effective as wielding a gun, with a tone that undulates between humour and seriousness. Plus the underlying resonance of a movie about competing narratives, smoke and mirrors and disinformation, with peace in Europe hanging within the steadiness, is tough to disregard.

The Upcoming had an interesting chat with screenwriter Michelle Ashford about adapting Macintyre’s guide and dealing with director Madden, seeing an all-star forged convey her script to life from Firth to Macdonald, how the movie is as a lot an ode to storytelling itself and the sudden relevance of the story in gentle of current occasions in Europe.

Sarah Bradbury

Operation Mincemeat is launched nationwide on 15th April 2022.

Watch the trailer for Operation Mincemeat right here: