A Most Wanted Man **** Except for a few moments of greenery, an imposing private bank and a grand hotel bar, the elegant city of Hamburg has never looked so grim. But we are, after all, in the grey world of John le Carré, a universe of tired spies with few illusions of grandeur.
Our main man, Günther Bachmann, seems to exist mainly on coffee, cigarettes and alcohol: props to keep him going in his mission to do the decent thing. Or the least damage to his conscience. In this last performance, the late, truly great Philip Seymour Hoffman plays Bachmann for all he’s worth, hesitant at first, almost without a compass. But as the tension builds up and the characters solidify, Hoffman drags us along into all that is tragic, devious and rotten in the world of refugees, terrorism, and counter-intelligence.
Remember Robert Redford’s character in Three Days of the Condor? Bachmann might be his bigger brother. And the great Sydney Pollack would have tipped his hat to Dutch director Anton Corbijn for this understated version of the spy thriller. It will move you deeply.
(Photo – Ascot-Elite)
Refroidis (In Order of Disappearance) **** (vo Norwegian) Snowdrifts undulating like white dunes, a frozen climate that transforms its inhabitants into glacial beings… the cold influencing their relationships, making them a reticent, silent folk. This is Norway and in the middle of all this is a father, a snow machine operator (played by an excellent Stellan Skarsgard), seeking revenge for his son’s killing – body count by body count. On the other side, another father (portrayed by the versatile Bruno Ganz) is also seeking retribution.
Norwegian director Hans Petter Moland takes this setting and characters and creates a bloody, quirky black comedy, much like its illustrious predecessors, Fargo or Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. This is a clever, crazy, violent thriller that is a real hoot. And unforgettable.
(Photo – Xenixfilm)
Neptune Ravar Ingwersen reviews film extensively for publications in Germany and Switzerland. She views 4 to 8 films a week and her aim is to sort the wheat from the chaff for readers.