The Statement is a contemporary political thriller based on a novel by Brian Moore. The Statement shines a light on some of the darkest corners of the religious and political establishment.
Set in modern day France, it is the story of Pierre Brossard (Michael Caine) who, as a young man, was a war criminal. Brossard has never been brought to trial and has lived a peaceful and anonymous life sheltered by right-wing elements within the Catholic Church. Now, nearly fifty years after his crime, Brossard’s sanctity is being threatened. A new investigation, launched by an ambitious Judge (Tilda Swinton) and a scrupulous Colonel (Jeremy Northam), is seeking to unearth Brossard’s hidden whereabouts. Meanwhile, mysterious assassins are tracking Brossard, determined to kill him before the Judge and Colonel can bring him to justice. With hunters sniffing him out at every corner, this wily and resourceful fugitive must now do everything and anything to outwit his vigilant pursuers.
Dombey, France. 1944. In line with Nazi commands, Pierrre Brossard, a young officer in the Vichy Milice, is responsible for the execution of 7 Jews.
France. April 1992. Pierrre Brossard, now 70, has been on the run for almost 50 years. Sheltered by old collaborator friends and the Catholic Church, Brossard has been living at the monastery in Salon de Provence, hidden away from both the public eye and his enemies. Until now. Hunted down and ambushed by an unknown assailant, Brossard deftly turns the tables on his attacker and kills him without even giving it a second thought. Quickly stripping the man of his passport, money and a curious ‘statement,’ Brossard disposes of both body and car by rolling the would-be assassin’s vehicle over a cliff. Deciding, then, to take a few seconds to glance over the man’s possessions, Brossard discovers that the ‘statement’ was to be pinned to his own corpse after his death – a document with a screaming headline: “…JUSTICE FOR THE JEWS OF DOMBEY!” Now suddenly realizing that he must find new shelter, a shaken Brossard turns to Commissaire Vionnet, a former Vichy colleague, for guidance.
In the Palais de Justice in Paris, Judge Annemarie Livi opens an investigation into Brossard and his criminal activities in WWII. The charge? Crimes against humanity. Enlisting Colonel Roux of the gendarmerie, Judge Livi informs her aid that they must both be wary of everyone until they discover who has been sheltering Brossard for all these years. It is also these higher-ups, the men behind Brossard (including those in the church) that are to be ensnared in the process.
Unbeknownst to Judge Livi, however, the first assassin’s failure only means that another hit-man, Michael Levy, has been placed on Brossard’s trail. The contractors, using an intermediary named Pochon, give Michael details as to where Brossard will be found next…
In Caunes, Brossard’s confessor and greatest champion amongst the clergy, Monsignor Le Moyne, absolves Brossard of the recent killing and relieves him of his guilt. Le Moyne also informs Brossard that Roux has contacted him – the gendarmerie must now also be on to him! Brossard will have to leave and continue on to a monastery in Aix.
Through various intercepts and interviews, Judge Livi and Roux advance their investigation to the point where they believe that Brossard has been hidden away by a secret group within the church called the Chevaliers. They also discover – after uncovering a plot to have Brossard executed – that time has become a factor in finding their prey. They must find Brossard quickly, before another attempt on his life is made.
Frustrated to no end by the series of dead ends and false leads, Judge Livi ultimately decides to go public with a photograph of Brossard – convinced that the press coverage will force him out into the open. In one sense she proves to be correct, as Brossard is turned away from a series of religious houses that are worried both about the newspapers and the new directive from the Cardinal De Lyon (stating that no one is to help the Nazi collaborator). In another sense, however, this exposure drives Brossard deeper into hiding.
Having failed to get sanctuary in Aix, Brossard takes refuge with the one person no one knows about – his estranged wife, Nicole. Out of fear, Nicole feeds and shelters him and allows him to stay for as long as he needs. Only when Brossard finally feels safe, does he venture outside and set out for his next destination: Villefranche.
Getting closer and closer to Brossard, Judge Livi and Roux execute a search warrant at the Villefranche monastery just to have Brossard, with instincts sharpened from years of hiding, slip right through their fingers. In his haste, however, Brossard abandons many of his personal effects and these quickly become valuable clues for Judge Livi and Roux.
Meanwhile, hurrying to the Bar Mathieu (where Brossard expects his usual stipend to arrive in the mail), the wily fugitive discovers that he is being followed once more. Deciding, again, to take matters into his own hands, Brossard follows Michael to the toilet to rid himself of yet another assassin. Accomplishing his task but now more than ever troubled and full of fear, Brossardquickly flees to the order of St. Donat in Nice.
Amongst Brossard’s possessions, Roux and Judge Livi discover a list of Abbeys with dates alongside – could this be a clue as to where Brossard is headed next? They also find an old photograph from 1944 showing Brossard and another man… but who is it? Back in Paris, we find Pochon being scolded for the performance (or lack thereof) of the assassins… it is by an elderly Gentleman who now commands that Pochon himself get rid of Brossard!
Contacting Commisaire Vionnet once more, Brossard learns that an old mutual acquaintance, Pochon, will meet him with a passport and airfare – items necessary to start a new life in another country. Throughout much of this, Judge Livi and Roux learn of the Commisaire’s connection to Brossard and quickly have him arrested. Under interrogation, the Commisaire begrudgingly provides information on the rendezvous between Pochon and Brossard… but is it too late? Frantically trying to locate Brossard and his would-be attacker, Judge Livi and Roux discover that all of their efforts were for not. Arriving at the café where Brossard and Pochon were to have met, the pair find that the newly-appointed assassin has already executed Brossard, pinning the ‘statement’ to his chest.
In failure, however, there is still a sense of victory. Brossard’s death, in fact, allows Judge LIvi and Roux to apprehend Pochon and, through him, uncover the deeper conspiracy.