backstabbing for beginners review

Based on the memoir by Michael Soussan, the real-life U.N. official who exposed the scam, the 2003-set drama centers around his fictional counterpart Michael Sullivan (James), a 24-year-old investment banker who throws his financial career away in favor of following in his late father's steps as a diplomat. The title misleads, but in a way that sets up a pleasant surprise: Per Fly’s “Backstabbing for Beginners” is not some archly tongue-in-cheek takedown of the art of the con, but a relatively serious-minded drama based on the true story of the Oil-for-Food scandal that plagued the United Nations around the time of the 2003 invasion of Iraq. |, April 26, 2018 Backstabbing for Beginners is ostensibly a thriller about the corruption and intrigue surrounding the Saddam Hussein-era "Oil for Food" program sponsored by the United Nations. How much the charismatic Pasha believes in his own persuasive patter and how much he is lying even to himself remains a mystery — but then so does the extent to which Michael needs to justify his own collusion. Whatever potential was evident in Soussan's source material is wasted on empty clichs and spoiler-alert casting. When Michael (a very good Theo James, whose inordinate handsomeness for once doesn’t actually shatter one’s suspension of disbelief) applies for his U.N dream job, wanting to follow in the footsteps of his diplomat father, it is Pasha who plucks his application from the pile, whisks him to Baghdad and quickly inducts him into the way things are done: expediently. The film follows a young idealistic UN diplomat who's assigned to assist in the Iraq Oil for Food program, but he soon discovers that there's wide scale corruption. “I was swept up in the romance of it,” says Michael in a voiceover hard-boiled with hindsight, “High adventure and a worthy cause. The percentage of Approved Tomatometer Critics who have given this movie a positive review. The film might have worked if it had a charismatic lead, but the bland James never succeeds in making his character's moral plight compelling. Pasha maintains that even limited success is better than nothing, when it comes to getting medical and food supplies to the hardest-hit regions. Composer: John Buchan Great title. Sign up here. Too bad what follows doesn't have the same insouciant charm. There are no approved quotes yet for this movie. © Copyright 2020 Variety Media, LLC, a subsidiary of Penske Business Media, LLC. | Fresh (9) Michael soon heads to Iraq, where he meets Nashim (Belcim Bilgin), a beautiful translator who keeps her Kurdish identity a secret and refers to Saddam Hussein as "the Angel of Death." But to choose our facts, our truths, with the utmost care.”. Some of the film’s inventions feel forced: The romantic subplot, complete with heavy-breathing sex scene, and some of the more cloak-and-dagger-y intrigue show the filmmakers are not simply “choosing facts with the utmost care,” but to some extent Hollywood-izing a complicated and tragic real-world situation. The seemingly ageless Jacqueline Bisset also enlivens the proceedings with her strong turn as Pasha's steely rival at the U.N. | Rating: 1.5/5 Director of photography: Brendan Steacy |, August 14, 2018 So it’s a good thing a terrifically watchable Ben Kingsley is on hand to deliver a mischievously profane performance (a Cypriot-accented “Fack!” is his most distinctive verbal tic) as Pasha, the U.N. undersecretary in charge of the Oil-for-Food program and the film’s most thoroughgoing moral relativist. Michael procures a job at the U.N., where he goes to work for the colorful Cypriot diplomat Pasha (Kingsley), whose less than total dedication to honesty becomes evident when he tells his young protégé, "The first rule of diplomacy, kid, is that truth is not a matter of fact. Cast: Theo James, Ben Kingsley, Belcim Bilgin, Jacqueline Bisset, Rossif Sutherland, Rachel Wilson, Brian Markinson We want to hear what you have to say but need to verify your account. You're almost there! Cinemark Please reference “Error Code 2121” when contacting customer service. By creating an account, you agree to the Privacy Policy This 10-digit number is your confirmation number. |, May 4, 2018 | Rating: 1.5/4 Pasha is in charge of the program designed to provide humanitarian aid to the Iraqi people from the proceeds of Iraq's oil sales. |, July 20, 2019 Production designer: Niels Sejer Featuring loads of expository voiceover narration by James' character that only serve to slow the narrative to a crawl, Backstabbing for Beginners belies its punchy title with its somnolent pacing. Producers: Lars Knudsen, Nikolaj Vibe Michelsen, Daniel Bekerman, Malene Blenkov Privacy | The percentage of users who rated this 3.5 stars or higher. However, at times it is a little vague about the deals being struck and who's on which side. Coming Soon. TWITTER This is a fascinating, outrage-provoking story but director Per Fly's bid to turn it into a cloak-and-dagger thriller falls disappointingly flat. and to receive email from Rotten Tomatoes and Fandango. Your Ticket Confirmation # is located under the header in your email that reads "Your Ticket Reservation Details". Despite delivering few actual thrills, the fact-based "Backstabbing for Beginners" qualifies as an intelligent, well-crafted political thriller... Takes an unsexy geopolitical scandal and makes it even more drab. Starring Theo James and Ben Kingsley, the film has a pretty good cast that delivers strong performances. It’s to the film’s credit that it creates a sense of high-stakes peril despite us knowing the rough outcome from the get-go, and largely without simplifying its moral dilemmas into straightforward choices between heroism and villainy. Pasha’s U.N. rival Christine Du Pre (a steely Jacqueline Bisset) is appalled by the program’s systemic corruption. Moral compasses are set spinning in this elegant, thrillerish account of corruption in the 2002-’03 UN Oil-for-Food program. Director: Per Fly Just below that it reads "Ticket Confirmation#:" followed by a 10-digit number. Audience Reviews for Backstabbing for Beginners Jul 24, 2019 Based on a bestselling memoir, Backstabbing for Beginners reveals the remarkable story behind one of … Editor: Susan Shipton, Morton Giese, Janus Billeskov Jansen, Hans Moller Get the freshest reviews, news, and more delivered right to your inbox! |, May 3, 2018 Production companies: Creative Alliance, Eyeworks Scandi Fiction, Hoylake Capital, Parts and Labor, Scythia Films, Waterstone Entertainment By opting to have your ticket verified for this movie, you are allowing us to check the email address associated with your Rotten Tomatoes account against an email address associated with a Fandango ticket purchase for the same movie. | Cookie Settings. He tasks Michael with writing the program’s report, coaching him, “Not to lie, never to lie. Just leave us a message here and we will work on getting you verified. Screenwriters: Per Fly, Daniel Pyne We won’t be able to verify your ticket today, but it’s great to know for the future. mystery and thriller, However massaged its truths may be, Fly, whose last film was the disappointingly shallow biopic “Waltz for Monica,” delivers an elegantly shot, compelling impression of the compromises and corruptions of the international aid world, and the compromised, corrupt, but not necessarily evil people who run it. It doesn't take long for the idealistic Michael — who tells everyone who'll listen, "I want to make a difference" — to realize that the program is riddled with graft and corruption. Regal Please enter your email address and we will email you a new password. It fails to make its subject matter interesting. Costume designer: Todor Kobakov | Rating: C | Rating: 2/5 Don’t worry, it won’t take long. All rights reserved. | Top Critics (8) It’s like Baghdad was my ‘Casablanca. Fortunately, Kingsley more than takes up the slack playing the sort of boss who calls a meeting to order by violently banging his shoe on the table. All rights reserved. '” It turns out, of course, to be a topsy-turvy version, in which idealism is not hard won but bitterly lost, and beautiful friendships end before they’ve really begun. Fictionalizing those incidents just enough to play as a pacy, borderline noirish thriller — available via DirecTV a month before its April 27 theatrical release — Fly and co-writer Daniel Pyne adapt Michael Soussan’s memoir of his time as a bright-as-a-button entry-level U.N. aide whose idealism curdles almost as fast as his star rises within the unwieldy organization. Even as James sucks all the energy out of the room with his inert performance, Kingsley creates oxygen with his dynamic, wildly entertaining turn.

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