Well, I liked Operation Mincemeat—despite the lukewarm reviews it received. Of course, I tend to watch movies a few minutes at a time (and often over a few days) while I write or do other work on my laptop, so what is slow-moving to most people often isn’t noticed as much by me. Another complaint, the romantic triangle —humanized the film to me and kept it from being a one-dimensional war movie. The premise that the uncertainty and anxiety of war could blur normally recognized boundaries didn’t seem like a stretch in the least.
And to that point (spoiler alert), how refreshing was it to see the self-restraint exercised by all parties? Lieutenant Cholmondeley (Chumly) was interested in Jean Leslie (widowed office worker who becomes part of the deception team). She did not return his affections so for the most part, he moved on. Colonel Montagu (a married man with a family) and Leslie did experience a mutual attraction but recognized that sexual involvement between them was not going to be the answer to the angst of war they were experiencing. Selfishly giving in to their desires would jeopardize their mission (as well as Montagu’s marriage and family).
Of course, in our over-sexualized movie culture, critics complained that these relationships went nowhere. That’s hardly true; they actually had a very noble ending. The historical notes at the conclusion of the movie told us that Colonel Montagu reconciled with his wife and family, while Jean Leslie went on to marry as did Chumly.
What I liked most about the movie was the relationship between Montagu and Chumly. Professionally and personally, they complemented each other quite well. They fed off each other’s ideas, finished each other’s sentences, and even had brothers who were quite different yet problematic to each of them. And yes, they were both attracted to the same woman. But in a pivotal scene where it appears that the operation has been compromised, Chumly confronts Montagu and they get all of their underlying issues and tensions out in the open.
But is doesn’t destroy them—it deepens them. Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” That’s exactly what happens with Montagu and Chumly. They are both mature enough to realize they need each other to accomplish a greater good and they work together to do just that. By the end of the movie, they are as solid as they ever were. Jean Leslie has wisely put in for and received a transfer, but not before making her own significant contributions to the deception. (Imagine that—Hollywood providing us with a model for how to diffuse an illicit office romance!). May their tribe increase!
While the romantic triangle is fictitious, the operation isn’t. It really happened and the movie is an homage to its place in WWII history.