Kompromat with Gilles Lellouche: what does the title of this intense thriller mean in Russia? – Cinema news

After “The Odyssey”, a biopic dedicated to Commander Cousteau, Jérôme Salle returns to his favorite genre with “Kompromat”, a breathtaking thriller carried by Gilles Lellouche, and available on Blu-ray, DVD and VOD. But what does this title mean?


Russia, 2017. Mathieu Roussel is arrested and imprisoned in front of his daughter. A French expatriate, he is the victim of a “kompromat”, compromising false documents used by the Russian secret services to harm an enemy of the state. Threatened with a life sentence, he has only one option left: to escape, and reach France by his own means…

Kompromat by Jérôme Salle – With Gilles Lellouche, Joanna Kulig… – On Blu-ray, DVD and VOD, for purchase and rental.


One would have thought that The Odyssey marked a turning point in his career, a change of course. But this biopic devoted to Commander Cousteau (played by Lambert Wilson) was in fact only a parenthesis for Jérôme Salle. With Kompromat, the French director returns to his favorite genre: the thriller. A register he is rubbing shoulders with for the fifth time in six feature films. Without repeating itself or staying in the same place.

After Hong Kong (Largo Winch) or South Africa (Zulu), here he is in Russia for the time of a story that collides with recent news. For the second time this year, since we also owe him the first two episodes of the spy series Totems, which takes place during the Cold War and which Amazon Prime Video put online after the start of the invasion of Ukraine.

However, Kompromat is not a behind-the-scenes dive into the Russian secret services. Nor a denunciation of local prison conditions, or of the misinformation that reigns in our time and which is worth Mathieu Roussel (Gilles Lellouche) to find himself in a situation that seems inextricable. These subjects are of course mentioned, but briefly. Because what interests the director is above all the chase in which he immerses us with his hero, without really giving us time to breathe.


There are still breaks, of course, and especially during the exchanges between Mathieu and one of his rare allies, Svetlana, played by Joanna Kulig, the revelation of Cold War. But Jérôme Salle takes advantage of the other sequences to confirm his know-how in the matter with this film which recalls The Fugitive and is inspired by a true story: that of Yoann Barbereau, former director of the French Alliance of Irkoutsk, arrested and imprisoned in 2015 after being the victim of a kompromat (meaning “compromising file”) accusing him of pedophilia, before escaping, the starting point of a leak that will last two years.

Facts from which Jérôme Salle and his co-screenwriter, the writer Caryl Ferey (whose filmmaker had adapted the novel Zulu less than ten years ago), were very freely inspired, to such an extent that Yoann Barbereau’s book, “In the jails of Siberia”, is not mentioned in the credits. Shot in Lithuania and France, Kompromat reminds us how French cinema can have nothing to envy to Americans in certain genres. And it will make the start of the school year a little more intense.

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