A Russian man and his Greek wife live in Paris before and during the Nazi occupation of Paris. Is he right wing Russian? Soviet? Nazi? Is his wife involved? Who is being betrayed?
With its detailed discussion of European politics on the eve of the Spanish Civil and Second World Wars, this fact-based tale of gentlemanly espionage, impoverished exile and deceptive appearances has much in common with Ken Loach’s Land And Freedom.
However, despite all the talk of Bolsheviks, fascists and White Russians, one-time tsarist general Renko’s betrayal of his artist wife could have come from one of Rohmer’s own sublime Moral Tales. Essentially, it’s a study in infidelity, with Renko pitilessly exploiting Didaskalu’s trust to provide a front for his nefarious activities.
Despite the inclusion of newsreel cues, the period complexity might alienate some, while others may bridle at Didaskalu’s passivity.
But the 83 year-old director remains the master of erudite dialogue and the delicious psychology of relationships.
A treat for lovers of political (and personal) intrigue and intricate, dialogue driven stories, this is a great piece of work.