Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5.
United Kingdom/USA/Germany/The Netherlands, 2001. Manhattan Pictures International, Intermedia Films, Senator Film Produktion, Meespierson Film CV, Jagged Films, Broadway Video. Screenplay by Tom Stoppard, based on the novel by Robert Harris. Cinematography by Seamus McGarvey. Produced by Mick Jagger, Lorne Michaels. Music by John Barry. Production Design by John Beard. Costume Design by Shirley Russell. Film Editing by Rick Shaine.
Dougray Scott plays a British code breaker during World War II who, after completing his assignment deciphering the messages of the German encryption device Enigma years before, had a nervous breakdown over a beautiful woman (Saffron Burrows) he loved. He is called back to British Intelligence headquarters to help figure out a more complicated German code machine that is crucial to saving a North American convoy of supply ships that might be attacked by German U-boats, then upon his arrival learns that his lady love has been missing for two days. He still can’t get her out of his mind, so while doing his job he’s also spending extra-curricular hours trying to track Burrows down with the help of her best friend and roommate (Kate Winslet), which gets dicey when the secrets that Burrows held come close to explosive secrets that lead to high ranks in the British government. Terrific story line (based on true events) is beaten down by dull direction and flat characters, with the exception of Winslet; the film becomes more engrossing the more it continues, but most of the scenes involving the code breaking are rife with dialogue that to those not familiar with this chapter in history will come off as unintelligible, leaving you with the feeling that the movie you’ve been watching has kept you at arm’s length for two hours. Produced by Saturday Night Live maestro Lorne Michaels and rock singer Mick Jagger, the owner of a real German Enigma machine that inspired him to make the film.
Toronto International Film Festival: 2001