Maybe somewhat unexpectedly, Amazon Studios have given us a really watchable and classily upscale espionage drama-thriller within the spirit of John le Carré. Danish film-maker Janus Metz Pedersen directs and Olen Steinhauer adapts his personal much-admired spy novella, centred on two former lovers within the cloak and dagger enterprise who meet for dinner in a chi-chi Californian restaurant. The story is in reality impressed by a BBC TV drama that had nothing to do with spies: The Song of Lunch starring Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman.
Henry Pelham (Chris Pine) is a CIA officer haunted by a disastrous occasion eight years earlier, when he was on the Vienna station: a airplane hijacking resulted in 100 deaths as a result of the terrorists had been one way or the other in a position to anticipate the authorities’ counter-attack. And he’s nonetheless heartbroken as a result of his CIA colleague Celia Harrison (Thandiwe Newton), with whom he was and is deeply in love, broke up with him simply afterwards, deserted the service and is now a placidly contented spouse and mom in Carmel, California.
Now Henry’s hardbitten station chief Vic Wallinger (Laurence Fishburne) tells him there may be proof they’d a mole – and Henry is now tasked with the emotionally painful obligation of reopening the injuries and interviewing the suspects, together with the shifty and evasive operative Invoice (Jonathan Pryce) who’s lately in semi-retirement, muttering resentfully into his whisky in a London pub. However Henry additionally has to journey to Carmel to ask Celia out to a restaurant to interrogate her over dinner. And Vic doesn’t need free ends or official inquiries: if Celia’s solutions are unsatisfactory, Henry has Vic’s authority to terminate her with excessive prejudice.
The result’s a posh confrontation over an Instagram-perfect meal with dizzying flashbacks to Vienna and flashbacks inside flashbacks to Henry’s service in Moscow 12 years earlier than that. It’s the traditional Le Carré conflation of three different types of betrayal: private, skilled and patriotic. Pine and Newton deal with this choreography with maturity and magnificence; Newton significantly reveals how spectacular she is with the precise position.