Red Joan

Filed in Film by on April 26, 2019 0 Comments

Inspired by a true story, Trevor Nunn’s espionage drama, Red Joan, unfolds, in part, against the backdrop of two major events — World War II and the Cold War — and is set in Britain and Canada.¬†The central character, Joan Stanley, is modelled after Melita Norwood, the longest-serving Soviet spy in Britain. Recruited in 1937, she worked for the Soviet Union for some 40 years.

Scheduled to open in Canada on May 3, the film begins as Stanley (Judi Dench), now an old woman, is arrested, accused of having passed classified material to the Soviets, and charged with treason. Flashbacks flesh out Stanley’s transition from Cambridge University physics student to spy.

At Cambridge decades earlier, Stanley (Sophie Cookson) meets two people who will change her life: Leo (Tom Hughes), a Russian Jew whose family moved to Germany and emigrated after the Nazi takeover, and his cousin, Sonya (Tereza Srbova). Leo and Sonya, both diehard communists, have a significant impact on her worldview.

Sophie Cookson and Stephen Campbell Moore

Stanley and Leo become lovers, but their relationship ends when, after the outbreak of the war, she is sent to Montreal with a team of British scientists to work on a top-secret project to build an atomic bomb.

She’s ostensibly a secretary, but her boss, Max Davis (Stephen Campbell Moore), recognizes her talent and takes her under his wing, both professionally and personally. Unbeknownst to him, she is passing¬†on atomic secrets to the Soviet government by way of Sonya.

Leo turns up unexpectedly in Montreal and tries to convince Stanley to join him in the Soviet Union, but she rejects his proposition.

Judi Dench and Ben Miles in Red Joan

Stanley’s son (Ben Miles), a lawyer, is bitterly disappointed when he learns about her past. Her explanation appears plausible — a war between the Soviet Union and the West could only be averted if the Soviets had the same access to secret scientific information.

The film, with strong performances from a fine cast, moves along at a brisk pace, shining a light on a tense era when two superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union, were continually at odds and sometimes even on the brink of war.








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