In Cold War Moscow, spy Katya (Rebecca Ferguson) is assigned to get close to rising politician Alexander (Sam Reid) in order to prise secrets from him. Despite all warnings, the pair fall in love. Thirty years later, Alexander’s niece Lauren (Ferguson) investigates what happened to her missing aunt.
Rebecca Ferguson, so vibrant in Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, pulls disappointing double duty in an old-fashioned, espionage-tinged romance that might be more at home on ITV3 than the big screen.
An old-fashioned, espionage-tinged romance that might be more at home on ITV3 than the big screen.
In ‘60s Moscow, she is Katya, a spy in cahoots with an anti-communist cell, who is recruited to get close to idealistic politician Alexander (Reid). It’s a familiar tale of Cold War spying — miniscule cameras, chicanery at the Russian embassy, chases down shadowy cobbled streets — with the inevitable consequence that the personal overtakes the political as Katya begins to fall for her mark.
In the post-Glasnost '90s Ferguson is Lauren (we know it’s the ‘90s, she has short hair), the niece of the defected Alexander (now Charles Dance) who returns to Russia to find out the truth about what happened to Katya. Hooking up — in more ways than one — with political journalist Marina (Trau), the pair dig up the past (hello Anthony Head!), the two timelines mirroring each other in clankingly obvious ways.
Over the stretch of a 350-page novel (by writer-director Shamim Sarif), the relationships and revelations have time to breathe and reverberate. Condensed to 90 minutes it becomes the stuff of overwrought melodrama. All the dramatic beats are hit but with little sensitivity in the writing or feeling for the people. And in case any ambiguity breaks out, Rachel Portman’s over-insistent score will leave you in no doubt how to feel.
An old school romantic thriller that lacks the subtleties and sophistication of recent spy storytelling, be it on the big screen (Bridge Of Spies) or small (The Night Manager).