Mr Jones (2019) Review – Depicts Only One Version of the Truth

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Journalists are often questioned about how many versions of truth they ponder upon. One who wants to sell the story could have many versions, but for someone like Mr. Jones, there is only one. Directed by Agnieszka Holland, Mr Jones is a gripping political thriller about a late twenties Welsh journalist named Gareth Jones(James Norton) who just interviewed Hitler on a plane. Never mind his boast or pride about the fact, his story is mostly perceived as a fictional and laughing stock, yet Jones is adamant to prove them wrong. He even predicts a war emerging on the European Map, but as said, he is ignored and laughed upon, mostly because he is twenty-something and doesn’t have wrinkles or a beard.

Mr Jones is narrated by an unknown character, who is writing a novel and thus chronicling this thematic story about Gareth Jones, but without humans, or as he mentioned, humans being Animals. While the narrator never mentions his name, anyone who is consciousness enough would know that he is writing Animal Farm and his name is, guess it or google it for better remembrance.


The Story

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The film begins with Gareth Jones recalling his journey on a plane with Hitler, and narrating them to a group of high-ranking British government officials that casually dismisses his warnings about Hitler. He recalls Hitler’s “emotionless eyes” and speaks about his disconcerting rise, writing in his piece, “If this aeroplane should crash, then the whole history of Europe would be changed.” Jones’ report is weighed worthless, due to lack of source, but he is adamant to prove his authenticity. Jones is however removed from the post of foreign affairs advisor and is asked to leave without giving definite reasons.

Jones, who is inclined to prove his metal, manages to pull enough strings to land himself an assignment to the Soviet Union to interview Stalin and to question him about the increasing number of wealth in the Soviet Union.

In Moscow, Jones meets a very important historical figure, New York Times reporter, Walter Duranty (Peter Sarsgaard) who serves Soviet favoring lies for his own personal gain. When Jones questions Duranty, from where Stalin is getting all this wealth. Duranty simply quotes, “Grains are Stalin’s Gold.” Jones, at first unable to understand the phrase, connects everything later in the story.

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Following the trail of facts and figures, and with a prominent help of Duranty’s assistant,  Ada Brooks (Vanessa Kirby),  Jones finally makes his way to Ukraine via dangerous means, after learning about the widespread, Stalin made Famine in Ukraine, by importing all the grains from there to his home country, leaving the residents on their deathbeds. Jones is quickly arrested by Soviet officials and there is a long journey ahead of him before he can expose the atrocities of the Holodomor.


Only One Version of the Truth

In an era of fake news and fictional reports about true events, films like Mr Jones reminds us, the amount of strain and struggle it requires to pursue the truth, and not the perceptual truth of the journalist but the actual truth. Today, News can be easily modified, by hiding certain facts or data, and yes, it is true too, just half of it. There are many ways to pursue it, but for Mr. Jones, the movie honors the idealistic legacy of Gareth Jones, with an uncompromising moral compass.

The script written by debut writer Andrea Chalupa has masterfully established present relevancy in Jones’s heroic commitment to publishing the facts and agitating those in power when today’s world has almost become numb to fake news.  Through the film, she spotlights Jones’s sense of journalistic duty, bravery and unwavering ethics to tell the truth no matter what the cost might be.

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However, the cost he paid was devastatingly high and his life remains hidden because he was never awarded for his story. On the other hand, Walter Duranty’s lies were celebrated in America and were handed a Pulitzer Prize for his fake story on how good Soviet Russia and Stalin was. His Pulitzer has still not been rebuked that demonstrates our disposition to celebrate fabrication over truth.


Holland’s film is narrated from the author’s perspective, who writes a novel. Later in the story, this strange man is given a name, Blair, who goes by his pen name, George Orwell. Thus, the hints in the script are that Animal Farm, an outspoken critic of Stalin-ism partly was influenced by Jones’ findings. We periodically cut back to Orwell’s portrayal in the film, which acknowledges Jones’ work from a different angle, thus underlining his efforts more historically prominent both in literature and politics.

Mr Jones is an important film in modern times and should be seen by most people to clearly understand what cost, a true journalist pays in order to expose the truth and the tyrants. The people in power, either make fun of them or get them killed to hide their practices, selling their people the dream of a perfect state, which is far-fetched and built on dark lies. On a cinematic level, Mr Jones is fast pacing, a thriller that keeps you engaged, eagerly waiting for a happy climax, if there is one in real-life stories.


Mr Jones is available for Video on Demand.

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