Mr. Jones becomes compulsory viewing for anyone desperate to discover the unsung heroes of the Second World War
Removing itself from classification as a traditional world war two drama, Mr. Jones has a drive to tell it’s story with both entertainment and truth, in a world where often one or the other is forgotten. Agnieszka Holland’s piece is a battling dive into the terrors Stalin imposed upon those living in the rural areas of the Soviet Union, with a viciously bleak segment highlighting the scale of the tragedy. Adding a sense of mystery to the ever increasing political tensions of the 1930’s, Mr. Jones becomes compulsory viewing for anyone desperate to discover the unsung heroes of the Second World War.
Gareth Jones (Edward Norton) is dropped from his position as secretary to David Lloyd George of the foreign office, but not before he can make one last trip to Moscow, looking to interview leader Josef Stalin. Arranging to meet an old friend, Jones discovers he has been murdered after a trip to the Ukraine. Making the journey south himself, Jones returns with information he must tell the world of.
The feature revolves around it’s second act. Very much appearing as a three act story, both tonally and visually, Mr. Jones uses the time spent in the Ukraine to highlight just how dreadful the famine was to live through, costing so many Soviet Nationals their lives. The section is not a appealing as say, 2018’s Cold War was, but it is harsh enough to truly demonstrate the difficulties of such a time. It’s dire nature is naturally unappealing, but does its job meticulously, highlighting the appalling conditions.
Moving away from the key moments, Holland takes Mr. Jones’ natural drama and converts it into an exciting move through political tensions. With hidden motives and contradicting viewpoints, the film is driven by its minor mysteries and rebelling characters pushing the drama to its personal limits. Films set during the war often forget that these events actually happened, and respect isn’t always the foremost ideology in their theming. These heroes and whistle-blowers were human, and their biopics always need to remember that
Norton’s portrayal of Jones is particularly astute, showing his commitment to professional journalism and the truth as pure character values, a quality that pushes the piece through some of its weaker, less motivated moments. Clearly Norton’s best performance to date, Jones is projected beautifully and powerfully into a world where his name may well have been forgotten.
With a multitude of benefactors shown before Mr. Jones title card, there’s a clear group effort behind the creation of the film, however, as just too many cooks usually spoil the broth, it seems on this occasion, the more the merrier, because Mr. Jones is an excellent tribute to a man who deserves credit for his unrelenting bravery.