In the past I have really struggled with film adaptations of John Le Carré novels. I found the critically acclaimed ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’ to be very over-rated. Similarly I struggled with ‘A Most Wanted Man’ the most recent adaptation before ‘Our Kind of Traitor’. I came to the conclusion that the narratives present in these adaptations just weren’t exciting enough for me, naturally I was dubious before seeing the latest one but hoped things could be different this time.
To my pleasant surprise I actually really enjoyed ‘Our Kind of Traitor’. For the first time I actually found myself to be engaged with a John Le Carré narrative. At times it is a little odd and even hard to believe however these obstacles are overcome throughout the film allowing the audience to accept the premise. What I think I enjoyed most about the narrative was just how easy it was to follow which certainly makes a change from some of Le Carré’s previous work but it was still well developed. My only issue that I had with the narrative was that it suffered from having false peaks, just as you thought you were approaching the finale another plot point would open up. They were all interesting enough I just thought that the overall structure of the story didn’t necessarily fit the running time that well. I also thought that some scenes could have been made more impressive. There was definitely potential to give certain moments more scale and excitement which really would have made the film that bit more memorable and given it more impact. Nonetheless I thought there was a good level of suspense and intrigue carried throughout the film, enough to maintain this Le Carré skeptic’s interest anyway.
The cast is made up of many well known names. Ewan McGregor and Naomie Harris play Perry and Gail a married couple who get drawn into serious drama that they are not used to. I thought that both performed well and were convincing in their roles. Stellan Skarsgård plays a Russian mafia member, Dima and has a good go at the Russian accent. His role is quite an interesting one and I think he did a great job at portraying the many aspects to his character. However it was Damien Lewis who I was most impressed with. The last thing that I saw Lewis in was ‘Stormbreaker’ and that is ten years ago now! I thought he performed really well here and I’m much more open to the idea of him as James Bond material now. My previous judgements on this discussion were clearly unfounded as I couldn’t base them on any recent performances. Bond casting aside I thought all the actors and actresses involved here had good chemistry and made quite a far fetched story all the more plausible.
Finally I can say that I’ve enjoyed one of John Le Carré’s works, ‘Our Kind of Traitor’ is interesting from the start and it always remains this way. Some scenes could have been elevated into something more exhilarating and the structure of the narrative could be looked at. Those issues aside though and the film is still an enjoyable one, the cast help to move the narrative along whilst also engaging the audience. ‘Our Kind of Traitor’ is my kind of Le Carré.
Rating – 7.5/10
Question: Which is your favourite John Le Carré adaptation for film or TV?
(Leave your answers in the comments section below!)
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