The Man With the Iron Heart
2.5/5   aka: HHhH
dir Cedric Jimenez
prd Daniel Crown, Alain Goldman
scr Cedric Jimenez, Audrey Diwan, David Farr
with Jason Clarke, Rosamund Pike, Jack O'Connell, Jack Reynor, Mia Wasikowska, Stephen Graham, Thomas M Wright, Gilles Lellouche, Celine Sallette, Noah Jupe, Steve Evets, Enzo Cilenti
release UK 10.Nov.17
17/UK Legende 2h01
The Man With the Iron Heart
Wave to the leader: Clarke and Pike

oconnell reynor wasikowska
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
The Man With the Iron Heart Directed with style by French filmmaker Cedric Jimenez, this is the true story of a high-ranking Nazi official and the plucky resistance operatives who set out to stop him. The script oddly scrambles the timeline, moving forward and backward unnecessarily as it cuts between these two halves of the narrative, losing momentum as a result. And the filmmakers never seem clear about what story they're telling.

In late-1920s Germany, Reinhard Heydrich (Clarke) survives a scandal with the help of wife Lina (Pike), who introduces him to the philosophy of young upstart Hitler. And now Reinhard wants to to whatever it takes to make the nation great again. Himmler (Graham) recognises his cold-hearted genius, and puts him in charge of cleansing Czechoslovakia, and ultimately all of Europe, of undesirables. Meanwhile, young soldiers Jan and Jozef (O'Connell and Reynor) parachute in to assist in Operation Anthropoid, the local underground's elaborate plan to kill Heydrich and send Hitler a message.

The film opens with the momentous 1942 assassination attempt in Prague, then cycles back and forth to tell both sides of the story. First is Reinhard's quick, brutal rise to power, as he starts horrifically cracking down on dissent then enacts his plan to exterminate the Jews. Among the Gestapo, he earns the nickname HHhH for "Himmlers Hirn heißt Heydrich" (Himmler's brain is called Heydrich). About halfway in, the perspective and tone shifts to put the resistance fighters in the spotlight.

Clarke gives Reinhard an icy demeanour that's darkly unsettling, especially as he interacts with Lina. Adding fascinating textures, Pike very nearly steals the whole show, becoming the only character who feels like a fully formed person. The more relaxed, effortlessly authentic O'Connell and Reynor give the other side of the story an earthier and livelier tone. And in her appallingly thankless role, Wasikowska adds a brief hint of welcome lustiness.

It's only been a year since Anthropoid recounted these same events with a focus on the resistance. This film condenses without adding anything, aside from giving two more British and Irish actors a chance to play them. But the mash-up of story halves never gels, feeling more like a condensed miniseries than a movie. So both strands feel rushed and simplistic, skipping over details for the main points. But the excellent actors add layers of interest even when things turn corny. And the story is strong enough to merit a real miniseries.

cert 15 themes, language, violence, sexuality 6.Nov.17

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