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File: The Debt
The Debt is a 2011 drama-thriller film directed by John Madden based on a screenplay written by Matthew Vaughn, Jane Goldman and Peter Straughan. The film is a remake of the 2007 Israeli film of the same name by Assaf Bernstein. It stars Helen Mirren, Sam Worthington, Jessica Chastain, Ciarán Hinds, Tom Wilkinson and Marton Csokas.
Israeli papers reported that Helen Mirren was "immersing herself" in studies of the Hebrew language, Jewish history, and Holocaust writings, including the life of Simon Wiesenthal, while spending time in Israel in 2009 to film scenes in the movie. "My character is carrying the memory, anger and passion of the Holocaust," she has said.
The film premiered at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival in September 2010. Miramax originally announced plans to release the film in the United States on December 29, 2010, and it quickly began to appear on lists of possible 2011 Oscar contenders. Before the official December 29, 2010, U.S. premiere, it was shown December 4, 2010, as part of the Washington DC Jewish Film Festival, and as early as October 17, at the Mill Valley Film Festival. However, the film was one of two films that had their official opening dates delayed until 2011 as a result of a "transaction between owner Disney and soon-to-be new owners, construction magnate Ron Tutor and Tom Barrack's Santa Monica-based Colony Capital (led by former Disney CFO Richard Nanula)...."
In February 2011, the announcement was made that the new release date had been scheduled for August 31, 2011. MPAA rating R for language and some violence.
The Debt has received praise among critics and viewers. Rotten Tomatoes reported a 77% "Certified Fresh" rating with 85 "Fresh" ratings and 25 "Rotten" ones. Victoria Alexander of FilmsInReview.com said of the film,"The twists are shocking and mesmerizing. A high wire, intelligent espionage thriller. It is one of the best movies of 2011." Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun Times gave the film 2.5 stars out of four. Ebert said, "Maybe the problem is a structure that cuts around in time. Three characters, six actors, and although the woman is always presumably Rachel, I was sometimes asking myself which of the two men I was seeing when younger. In a thriller, you must be sure. I suspect this movie would have been more effective if it had remained entirely in the past, especially given all we know."