Espionage rejuvenates a marriage in Susanna White’s Our Kind of Traitor, based on a John le Carré’s novel. The story centers on a British couple: Ewan McGregor plays a Poetics professor, Naomie Harris plays a barrister. They’re on vacation in Marrakesh, more of a workation for the barrister, when a Russian money launderer (Stellan Skarsgård), scared that he’s next on the mafia’s hit list, seduces the professor into smuggling a flash drive to the UK. In exchange for ratting out his boss, the mafioso wants amnesty for his family and himself. Damian Lewis plays an archetypically stubborn, against-the-system British intelligence officer who quotes Leszek Kolakowski. At least half of the movie is riveting. By the third act, however, it starts descending into mawkishness and implausibility. Another nuisance is that while Russians talk to each other in Russian, Skarsgård, who plays a Russian, speaks to other Russians in accented English. At least the movie, shot by Anthony Dod Mantle, looks stunning. Mantle shoots through windows and glass, uses vivid colors, makes good use of slow-motion, offers some overhead shots, and finds interesting angles that help create a mood. One of the early, and best, scenes is shot à la The Conformist. And conforming to cliches is unfortunately what Our Kind of Traitor does. Nevertheless the adventure is eventful to the final twist.

By Alec Julian & Carrie White


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