Win a double pass to a preview screening on 13 July!
Despite not being aficionados of the spy film genre, my plus one and I eagerly anticipated the Cinema Nova’s media preview of Our Kind of Traitor. There’s nothing like a good mix of international intrigue and sleek cinematography to start the day.
Adapted from the novel by John le Carré (The Night Manager, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), Our Kind of Traitor sees poetics lecturer Perry Makepeace (Ewan McGregor) and his wife Gail (Naomi Harris) vacationing in Morocco to spice up their marriage. When Gail leaves to take a conference call during dinner, Perry is beckoned over for a drink by boisterous, charming Russian Dima (Stellan Skarsgård). After getting well-acquainted over a few drinks, lavish house parties, and games of tennis, Dima asks Perry to bring some sensitive information back to England. Before long, Perry and Gail are caught up in a plot involving MI6, Russian mobsters — and the future safety of Dima and his family.
What follows is a plot that’s gripping enough to keep a casual thriller fan engaged, but does not do much that would surprise dedicated moviegoers. Directed by Susanna White (Nanny McPhee Returns), the film looks stunning and does well with artistic, slow motion sequences, especially in the film’s opening, which features a beautifully rendered brutal murder of a family of three.
Naomi Harris isn’t given much to do except scowl and look concerned, and Ewan McGregor hasn’t been this uncharismatic since the Star Wars prequels. Thankfully their bland performances are buoyed by Skarsgård hamming it up to incredible heights in a Russian accent. He reads lines like ‘You cried like little girl’, with the conviction of a Russian Bond villain. Skarsgård’s performance brings some giddy fun to a film that perhaps takes itself a little too seriously.
Our Kind of Traitor is an intelligent popcorn thriller bound to spark some conversation at dinner about its twisty plot, but the film probably won’t stick in your mind for much longer. It is, however, a fine way to spend a wintry afternoon or evening at the cinema.
Tom Bensley is a freelance writer in Melbourne who reviews anything he attends, watches or reads. It’s a compulsion, really. Follow him @TomAliceBensley.
Our Kind of Traitor will be officially released July 14 at Cinema Nova.