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Bridge of Spies (2015)

Bridge of Spies poster.jpg

Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg, a Coen Brothers rewrite and a Cold War story nobody really knew much about. Atmosphere, slick decisions and great shooting magnify this episode which played out as the sideshow to the U2/Gary Powers drama in 1960. The decision not to show the trial of Russian spy Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance) is a surprise and a good one because the real drama is the collegiate relationship with lawyer James Donovan (Hanks) and the heat he takes for defending him at the government’s request. His negotiating skills are demonstrated when it comes to a so-called spy exchange with the Soviets in Berlin and this is when things get murky and nobody is really who anyone else thinks they are. There are some good jabs at everyone involved, a nice touch with a cinema in Berlin showing (amongst others) Spartacus and One, Two, Three (Wilder’s great modern Berlin comedy which was only released in December 1961 in West Germany) and one wonders was it lateral thinking that made someone think of the U2 singer’s daughter in the role of Donovan’s child. A great sequence downing the bomber, some subtly good instrumentation in the score and convincing setpieces in Berlin as the Wall goes up make this a terrific, intelligent entertainment. There were a lot of tissues at the screening I attended – Donovan’s sniffles are contagious.

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About elainelennon

An occasional movie-watching diary.

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