Thursday, October 29, 2015

Bridge of Spies

     Once again director Steven Spielberg has crafted an impeccable film that holds it's own with the best of the cold war dramas.  With Tom Hanks as his "go to" leading man, the film is a suspenseful, thought provoking drama based on a true story.

      The Jimmy Stewart of his generation, Mr. Hanks is perfectly cast as James Donovan, an insurance lawyer who is asked to defend Russian spy, Rudolph Abel (played by the wonderful Mark Rylance). It's clear it's a case he can't win but his morality and ethics still move him to do the best job possible. When U.S. pilot, Gary Powers is shot down over Russia and accused (rightly so) of spying, it is Donovan who is asked to negotiate the exchange of spies in East Berlin. But of course it comes with a twist that complicates matters .

       Mr. Hanks has played these kind of roles before, the straight laced hero but it's fun to see his character annoyed by a head cold, downing scotches to feel better throughout the film. Mr. Rylance is brilliant as Abel and I hope to see him get a best supporting Oscar nomination.  Co-starring as Donovan's wife is Amy Ryan and Sebastian Koch as a shadowy East Berlin lawyer.

       The screenplay is by Matt Charman and the Coen Brothers. It is cerebral yet accessible to a broad audience with more than one clever line. Mr. Spielberg's recreation of cold war Berlin and the Berlin wall is chillingly authentic (no pun intended) as is everything else in the film. It's a heartfelt tribute to Mr. Donovan, who's work for our government deserves the recognition.

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