Mr. Jones

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29th February 2020

Everyone Has An Agenda

“There are two sides to every story and the truth is somewhere in the middle.” If that would be indeed the case, then the truth would always come out. Not for a full 100% to everyone’s liking but at least it would be out there.

However, we all know that things aren’t that simple and especially not when it comes to the truth being told by the media. The media and its journalists will always have an impact on the news that;s being spread.

It might seem just a trend for the last few years, especially with the rise of social media, but nothing could be further from the truth. That’s proven by “Mr. Jones”, the latest film from director Agnieszka Holland.

The movie tells the story of the foreign political advisor and journalist Gareth Jones (James Norton). His motto has always been to uncover the truth because that’s his job as a journalist. However, that might not be as easy as it seems.

After losing his job with the British foreign secretary in London, he wants to prove again to the outside world what he’s capable of. He already had interviews with Hitler and Goebbels and now he wants to arrange one with Stalin. This interview wouldn’t only put him back on the map but would also show the corrupt way of working in the Soviet Union.

However, what he uncovers is far worse than he thought. There’s death, destruction, corruption, and censorship everywhere he goes. It becomes even worse when the Holodomor, a famine that will cost millions of life, sets in. This is due to Stalin and his way of taking on agriculture in 1933.

Throughout his journey, the interview with Stalin becomes less of a priority and instead Jones is now focusing on telling the truth. For that, he gets help from fellow investigative journalist Ada Brooks (Vanessa Kirby) but at the same time, he’s being opposed by the esteemed writer Walter Duranty (Peter Sarsgaard). Will Jones be able to bring out the truth that will change the world or will the corruption and politics keep him from doing that?

Whether you’re a history lover who wants to see one of the most important history lessons coming to life or a film buff that’s intrigued by the eye-opening story, you will love Mr. Jones for many different elements.

One of those is the authenticity of this film. This is mostly because the director herself is from Poland. Based on her “In Darkness” and Europa Europa, there’s no denial that Holland has a love for politics, history, and film.

It’s not only the story of Jones that’s being told truthfully but also how censorship was used in general during that time. The film opens with George Orwell (Joseph Mawle) writing his famous Animal Farm, one of the first works in literary history that was self-censored by the publishers due to political reasons.

There will be many elements referring to Orwell’s work in “Mr. Jones” which makes the message from director Holland and her screenplay writer Andrea Chalupa even more clear.

Norton (“Hampstead”, “Flatliners”) is a very fine lead who puts on an appealing and honest Jones on screen. His massive amount of charisma, the combination of good looks and dorkiness and the incredible talent make from Norton’s performance a stunning one.

Where there’s light, there’s also darkness and there where is the truth, there’s also corruptness. If Norton and his Jones stand for that light and truth, then Sarsgaard (“Jackie”, “Black Mass”) and his Duranty are the darkness and corruptness. While we shouldn’t applaud Duranty and the way he lives his life, we can certainly praise Sarsgaard for his captivating, entertaining and clever performance.

The two men are being accompanied by the wonderful Kirby (“Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw”, “Mission: Impossible – Fallout”). While we all know that Kirby can put on some strong acting, her character sadly lacks some depth and is being underused. We would have loved to have seen much more of Brooks.

Sadly, the movie feels a little bit too repetitive at times. Yes, uncovering the truth during the war comes with hard work and long and hidden conversations but sometimes it felt too overstretched. Because of the accuracy and detailed storyline of this film, the emotions seem to be repressed by the events. This results in the lack of emotional connection.

After getting its UK release at the beginning of the month, Mr. Jones is now available via video on demand. Despite it being slow and lacking emotions, this movie still makes a wonderful period drama. One with an extremely important message that we certainly can’t ignore.

Signature Entertainment presents Mr Jones in Cinemas and on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD now.

A Welsh journalist breaks the news in the western media of the famine in the Soviet Union in the early 1930s.

7th February 2020

Agnieszka Holland

Andrea Chalupa

Running Time:
2h 21min

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