First Hit: Better than Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy but the pall of Hoffman’s death kept creeping into my thoughts while watching.
Upon seeing Hoffman, I found myself looking for the signs of his real life struggle. His overweight, chain smoking and heavy drinking character Gunther Bachmann was one having a difficult life as well.
As an unsupported German government terrorist finder, he’s got a small team of people who work to befriend, interrogate (nicely) and influence people to assist him to find the people who fund Islamic terrorist activities around the world. His team does it methodically and not reactively.
However, the CIA and the German government only gives him a short leash and their ever-present pushing create a more difficult environment him and his team to work in.
The film takes place in Hamburg (one of my favorite German cities) with its water, canals, and mixture of old and new architecture. The pacing of this film is on the slow methodical side but it fits with the story. The film is dark in mood and I don’t think I saw one scene where the sun shines as well.
Hoffman embodies his character with an odd inconsistent accent. Girgoriy Dobrygin as Issa Karpov (as suspected terrorist) was very good. His sullen, eyes down view of the world was very powerful and believable. Mehdi Dehbi as Jamal was very good because he embodied the scared but determined informer he was. Nina Hoss as Irna Frey (Bachmann’s right hand person) was very good. Rachel McAdams as Annabel Richter (lawyer for Karpov) was really good. I liked the brightness she brought to the film. Robin Wright as Martha Sullivan (CIA head in Germany) was very strong. Willem Dafoe as Tommy Brue (Banker who manages his deceased father’s bank of ill-gotten money) is also very strong. Andrew Bovell wrote a clear screen play of this John le Carre novel. This was better than the muddied screen play for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy novel. Anton Corbijn directed this dark sullen film with a clear deft of hand.
Overall: This film was much better than I thought it would be but the pall of Hoffman’s recent death carried through my heart as I watched it.