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Mr Jones

Agnieszka Holland

Veteran film director Agnieszka Holland (House of Cards, In Darkness), returns to our screens with a wrenching historical drama with James Norton (McMafia, Happy Valley) as Gareth Jones, the Welsh reporter whose investigative writing about the USSR and travesties in the Ukraine provided the hard facts that inspired George Orwell’s Animal Farm.

"A wrenching historical drama..."

We meet Jones in 1933, working as foreign advisor to British Prime Minister Lloyd George after making his name by scooping an interview with Hitler. As he returns to being a freelance journalist, Jones is determined to go to the USSR and speak with Stalin, then much admired for boosting Russian productivity despite the world’s economic depression.

Jones’ real-life accounts of the horrors he witnessed while covertly travelling through Ukraine were dismissed as lies by journalists and intellectuals, determined for a variety of reasons to keep the truth at bay. For some, Stalin was an antidote to Hitler and this film shows how their desperate need to believe blinded them to reality.

Holland guides the film with a steady hand using a muted palette and tonal starkness that echoes Bela Tarr. Antoni Komasa-Łazarkiewicz provides music alternately moody and propulsive in a vaguely Glass-ian mode, while the austere cinematography and imposing, sometimes monumental design make the most of Ukrainian and Scottish locations.