The Russia House seems like the perfect Saturday Matinee movie. It’s not for the awards it won although it did win a few. Michelle Pfeiffer was nominated for a Golden Globe, the National Society of Film Critics gave both the screenplay by Tom Stoppard and the cinematography by Ian Baker 2nd place wins, and director Fred Schepisi was nominated for a Golden Bear. But that’s about it. To be frank, it’s not a highly acclaimed movie.
I’ll be straight with you. Roger Ebert, who I put a lot of stock in, only gave it two stars in his 1990 review. If I quoted the first line of that review, you wouldn’t bother with the movie at all. The New York Times was even harsher. They say ‘the narrative structure is a mess.’ From Tom Stoppard, no less!
But wait. It’s Sean Connery and Michelle Pfeiffer together. Watch the trailer below. See the disheveled, drunken, bumbling British book publisher transformed by love. Set the story in today’s environment of heightened tension with Russia and I think you can see its’ appeal.
It’s right there in Ebert’s review
‘‘And so what develops is one of those infinitely gentle, sad le Carre plots in which men who have worked too long within the mole tunnels of intelligence come out into the sunlight and stand, blinking and disoriented, in the glare of beauty, romance, truth and fresh air.
The Russia House also stars Klaus Maria Brandauer, Roy Scheider, James Fox and John Mahoney. If you’re brave enough, you can watch The Russia House on iTunes, Vudu and Amazon for $2.99. Let’s see how it’s aged!
Oh, and one more plus, the bittersweet soundtrack by Jerry Goldsmith is the Oscar-winning composers’ personal favorite and features the work of Branford Marsalis. That has to be worth something.
About the book
John le Carre’s bestselling classic is a timeless spy thriller about the Iron Curtain and the tense relationship between Great Britain and Russia.
In Moscow, a sheaf of military secrets changes hands. If it arrives at its destination, and if its import is understood, the consequences could be cataclysmic. Along the way it has an explosive impact on the lives of three people: a Soviet physicist burdened with secrets; a beautiful young Russian woman to whom the papers are entrusted; and Barley Blair, a bewildered English publisher pressed into service by British Intelligence to ferret out the document's source. A magnificent story of love, betrayal, and courage, The Russia House catches history in the act. For as the Iron Curtain begins to rust and crumble, Blair is left to sound a battle cry that may fall on deaf ears.