Ulrich Mott is a diplomat, military general, count, intelligence officer, and power broker — or so he would like you to believe. “Georgetown” details how a charlatan entirely fictionalized an impressive background to infiltrate DC society, only for the lies to catch up with him as his one ally, his well-connected and much older wife, winds up dead in their Georgetown townhouse.
Based on the real-life murder of Viola Drath by her con artist husband, as detailed in The New York Times article, “The Worst Marriage In Georgetown,” the political crime thriller is an excellent offering and an impressive directorial debut by actor Christoph Waltz.
When Mott (Waltz) arrives in D.C. at the film’s opening, he is a 50-year-old intern on Capitol Hill, giving tours to constituents when he sneaks into the White House Correspondents Dinner and meets Elsa Brecht (Vanessa Redgrave), a socialite decades his senior. They quickly marry, developing a platonic partnership more than a romance, with the pair leveraging Elsa’s contacts and Mott’s ambition to launch his career and return her to social prominence. Yet when Mott slowly discerns that he will never be taken seriously as more than a party host, he becomes desperate as cracks begin to form in his story, and marriage.
At just 90 minutes, the film’s complex story is rendered with briskness and clarity. The shorter runtime creates an urgency in the film, as each facet of the narrative is given just enough time without dragging. There was likewise a welcome lack of subplots, which created a focused through-line and allowed the audience to remain with the thrilling central story.
A nonlinear story structure is utilized to further create a sense of mystery, jumping between Mott and Elsa’s developing relationship and Mott’s trial for her murder. The timelines are interwoven in an intelligent manner, where information from one scene is not only relevant to the plot, but also the themes and character development of the next.
Despite being filmed in Toronto, the movie captures the feel of Georgetown exquisitely. Discussions of international affairs and social gatherings peppered with an almost compulsive name-dropping
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