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TRIPLE AGENTLoosely based on true events that have never been fully clarified, Eric Rohmer’s fascinating new film, TRIPLE AGENT is a dizzying spy story as well as a morality tale about dissimulation and lying.
Hinging on the drama of a couple in crisis under the looming shadow of World War II, it is a moving epic of love and betrayal. TRIPLE AGENT was first shown In Competition at this year’s Berlin Film Festival.
Set in Paris, 1936, the newly elected Popular Front government in France and the civil war in Spain have sparked a turmoil of passion and confusion. Fyodor, a young White Russian army general, now an émigré in Paris, and his Greek wife, Arsinoé, are caught up in the mood of uncertainty. She befriends her communist neighbours, while he makes secret trips abroad and playfully cultivates his friends’ anxieties. He doesn’t deny that he is a spy, but for who? The anti-Communist White Russians, the young Soviet Union, the Nazis, or all three? Does he even know himself? For a man who loves his wife, he seems strangely willing to sacrifice her for the sake of a sordid conspiracy.
Rohmer first discovered the details of this still unsolved mystery in an article published by the French periodical Historia several years ago about the White Russian Agent, Nicolai Skobline. However, his script does not pretend to be entirely faithful about the actual events.
TRIPLE AGENT is set in a milieu almost never seen in film before: the Russian émigré community in pre-war Paris. Far from portraying the characters as stereotypes, Rohmer makes us understand them by the way they think, speak and love. The detailed set dressing adds to the feeling we have entered the private surroundings of their home. 'Our idea was to use all the mechanisms of the classic spy story – false trails, treachery, deceit, suspense and a heightening of dramatic tension- and to suggest the suspicion that worms its way into a loving couple, never revealing the whole story, but rather letting an atmosphere of ambiguity and vague unrest set in, thus adding an extra note of tragedy to the protagonists’ ultimate fates. History, as a spy story and a couple’s lives which merge and send ripples through each other.' Eric Rohmer