I watched this film during the very long plane journey home from Las Vegas and was pleasantly surprised. Myself and the hubby had seen it advertised on TV a lot but as nothing exploded and no one got naked he wasn’t really interested.
If you are looking for a high suspense, scary thriller style spy film then this isn’t really one for you. But if you do enjoy cleverly written drama with poignant moments that cut deeper than expected and the odd moment of humour – then this is the one for you.
I have always been a fan of Tom Hanks so for me this film just showed off his skills even further. He was intelligent, witty, engaging and drew you into his fears and emotions enough to make the film feel truly personal. His role as the hero worked well throughout the film, giving you a constant although complicated character. Through him the audience are able to work their way through the consistently conflicted and changing loyalties and emotions throughout the story.
The film works through the story of the capture and trade of American and Russian spies in the Cold War, James Donovan (Tom Hanks) is assigned to represent a Russian spy during his criminal trial in the US. The trial unfolds with the backdrop of high media and public interest in the impact and possible future of the Cold War as well as intense scrutiny of all those involved in the trial. Donovan and his family are viewed as villains by the general public, due to the huge amount of general fear the public are unable to see why someone would defend such a dangerous character.
Taken at face value myself as a British woman in 2016 it could be difficult to understand the fear and almost exaggerated refusal to understand Donovan’s case in defending the spy Abel. However, when you really pay attention it isn’t difficult to compare it to our current climate. Some people would argue we are not at open war, some would argue that we are just as it was during the Cold War. However, what you cannot deny is just like the characters in the film we are under constant threat by a seemingly unreasonable force that could attack at any time and without provocation.
One of the scenes from this film which will probably stay with me is that of the children in school watching the information about the bombs and how to stay safe, this is followed up by Donovan finding his son in the bathroom with the bath filled and following instructions about how to survive an attack. This cannot fail to resonate today with anyone who watched the effects of the attacks in Paris and Brussels, after the Paris attacks my family and I were due to go to Manchester and many members of my family did not want to go – just incase. Just like during the Cold War, as in the film, we cannot let the fear of an attack ruin our daily life otherwise “they” have already won. We cannot also allow this fear of an attack to change how we treat those around us, to do so would make us lesser than we owe it to ourselves to be. This fear could also drive us to discriminate against and harm those who are innocent, whether through panic or just misunderstanding.
I would highly recommend this film as one which will entertain and stay with you.
Finally, personally I wanted to comment on the portrayal of the Berlin Wall. I was born on the 12th November 1989, the day the wall came down. My Mum had visited the wall previously and my Uncle worked in the RAF and on the wall. It is something I have grown up knowing about but never really comprehending the truth of it. This film helped me to really understand the fear, the absolute destruction that was East Germany and the impact that the wall had on those on either side. It is definitely something I will be looking into more.