A Diplomat Gets Framed by the Russian FSB in 'Kompromat'

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Gilles Lellouche Kompromat
Gilles Lellouche in "Kompromat" (Magnet Releasing)

How should a diplomat conduct business when stationed in a foreign country? Should the agenda be to promote the values of one's home country, or should the mission be to observe the customs and laws of the nation where you're stationed?

"Kompromat" is a French thriller based on the true story of a diplomat who pushed the cultural envelope and paid a terrible price. In the movie, we follow Mathieu Roussel (played by Gilles Lellouche) as he's posted to Irkutsk to head Siberia's Alliance Francaise. When opening a restored theater, the organization puts on a ballet that features a same-sex kiss.

The local authorities are not happy with Mathieu, and the FSB raids his home for an arrest that terrifies his family. We've got a clip of that moment in the film.

    The French citizen finds himself accused of horrible crimes fabricated by the Russian government. He's taken to a Russian prison and faces the possibility of spending his life incarcerated for crimes he didn't commit.

    "Kompromat" arrives at a time when the West is once again confronting the reality that Russia does not share its democratic values. The invasion of Ukraine was fueled by the Russian government's objection to the former satellite country's embrace of democratic values, and Mathieu's experience has parallels with the experiences of American basketball player Brittney Griner after her arrest in Russia in 2022.

    After he's brutalized by the guards and other prisoners, Mathieu is finally given bail. He soon realizes that his only hope is to escape, so there's plenty of action and thrills as he tries to escape the country. The movie is loosely based on a memoir by Yoann Barbereau, a French citizen who was a victim of kompromat in Siberia. The movie adds so much action that some French critics complained that it lost the spirit of Barbereau's book, but U.S. movie fans will appreciate the changes.

    The dialog in "Kompromat" is in both French and Russian, so there are subtitles. The movie will be released in select theaters and on demand on Jan. 27, 2023.

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