Our Kind of Traitor
by Tony Medley
Runtime 107 minutes.
Not for children.
This is the type of
thriller that Eric Ambler used to write, where an ordinary man suddenly
finds himself involved with all kinds of international intrigue. I loved
Ambler’s books and I loved this movie just as much.
This is one of the
best thrillers I’ve seen in quite a while. Perry (Ewan McGregor) and his
wife, Gail (Naomie Harris) are on vacation in Marrakech when Perry is
befriended by a flamboyant Russian, Dima (Stellan Skarsgärd) and dragged
into something beyond his ken. Dima invites them to parties and acts as if
he is their best friend. But then he suddenly reveals who he is and why
he needs them and they are plunged into the same kind of intrigue in
which Ambler involved his ordinary people.
It is enhanced by
some of the best background music (Marcello Zarvos) I’ve heard. It’s so
good, in fact, that I was shaking with tension throughout the film, and
that’s not just because it is so well directed by Susanna White based on
a book by John LeCarré and a script by Hossein Amini, who also wrote the
scripts for Drive (2011) and The Two Faces of January
(2014), both films I enjoyed.
Adding to the quality
of the movie is a fine performance by Damian Lewis, who is probably
better known for his TV roles in Homeland and Billions.
For those familiar with those shows, this is a different Damian Lewis,
which indicates what a fine actor he is.
While all the
performances are very good, the one that stands out is Skarsgärd because
he portrays such an exuberant, full of life character. He gives an
unforgettable, Oscar®-quality performance.
Most films of
international intrigue are enhanced by exotic locations, and this one is
no different. In addition to Marrakech, the action takes place in
London, Paris, Bern, and the French Alps; the film used 50 different
locations and 90 sets, enhanced by the work of Production Designer Sarah
(Anthony Dod Mantle) is beautiful, to say the least. Mantle
worked with multiple, sometimes hidden,
cameras to give each scene a unique perspective. Often director White
didn’t even know where they were, and was surprised when she found some
shots she had no idea she had.
There have only been
a few standout films this year and this is one of them.