So after sharks, dynos, extra-terrestrials, WWII, Holocaust, Olympics terrorism, future, Lincoln and handful of other themes, it’s the turn of the Cold War to be processed, re-created and brought to screen in the vision of Steven Spielberg. ‘Bridge of Spies‘ inspired by the historical character of James B. Donovan, defender of the Soviet spy Rudolf Abel and then main negotiator in the spies exchange that set him free for the US pilot Gary Powers downed while in a mission over the USSR, is also the first movie in the political thriller genre directed by Spielberg.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3682448/

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3682448/

 

Had the script of this film been written by Ken Follett or the late Robert Ludlum, I would probably have accepted much easier the outcome. However, when brothers Coen are two of the three authors of the script I would have expected more than a smooth narrative structure and well written dialogs (in many moments). There is almost nothing of the sparks or daring insolence of many of the scripts in the films directed by the two. The story is roughly divided into two parts, and the tentative to synchronize the two threads (Abel’s story and Powers’ story) fail not only because they were separated in time by five years but also because it is only the first that has interesting material and consistency. The lawyer who does the right thing defending the rights of a criminal who presumably caused harm to his own country in time of what some perceived as war is too gross an analogy to the contemporary fight against terror viewed from a liberal point of view. The second part is more like the classical East Berlin spy stories, but here again the schematic description of East Berlin and of the Eastern German policemen and even officials lacks authenticity and complexity.

 

(video source 20th Century Fox UK)

 

We are left with enjoying two formidable performances by as James B. Donovan and especially by and Rudolf Abel. I am looking forward to the nominations for the Academy Awards and I hope that Rylance will get at least an Actor in a Supporting Role nomination. His act here is my favorite from all 2015 movies I have seen until now. On the other hand the political messages that this film tries to convey are much too obvious. Yes, they are important, but important messages are not well served when the style gets that close to propaganda. Actually the genre this film is closer than other is the Western. One lonely hero fights for justice against the whole world and wins against all odds. It’s just that the century is the 20th and the hero is not using his gun, but is a lawyer. Problem is that the analogy does not work very well in this recent film of Spielberg.