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Our Kind of Traitor: My take on the book by John LeCarré

Ewan McGregor, Naomie Harris, Stellan Skarsgård & Damian Lewis star in Our Kind of Traitor

I love how LeCarré thrusts an ordinary young couple into the world of espionage in Our Kind of Traitor. Actually they’re not so ordinary. Perry is a disenchanted professor and super-competitive athletic type, his girlfriend Gail is both a barrister and an absolute drop dead gorgeous man-magnet. That’s LeCarre’s great gift, fleshing out characters, giving them lives and back stories that really keep us invested.

While on vacation in Antigua, the pair are befriended by Dima, a powerful Russian mobster. What begins as a bizarre tennis match, watched by Dima’s entire family and entourage, becomes a story of defection. As the couple gradually, reluctantly becomes emotionally invested in Dima and his family, they find themselves used by the British government as go-betweens in a tense back and forth, with the couple never quite knowing who to trust.

The way LeCarre writes it in his novel, Perry and Gail, sometimes together, sometimes separately, are brought into some mysterious Secret Service interview room where their interrogation leads to the retelling of their adventure. It’s all frought with tension, mistrust and fear about saying too much, saying the wrong thing.

Speaking of fear, I’m fearful that some of what I loved about the book—the tennis, the tropical resort, the tension-filled rendezvous at the mens’ finals in the French Open at Roland-Garros in Paris have been discarded for the film. My mistrust is rooted in the fact that I can’t find any images of Ewan McGregor (Perry) in tennis togs although there are shots of McGregor and costar Naomie Harris (Gail) from the 2014 shoot in Paris so I’m keeping my fingers crossed. 

If the movie—which also stars Stellan Skarsgård as Dima with Damian Lewis as Hector, the man from British intelligence who holds the strings—can hold onto the tension and present LeCarre’s rich cast of characters with as much authentic grit as the author does, I’ll be satisfied. 

My ruling on the book? Love All, no foul.

Let’s watch the trailer

PS. I’m especially pleased the film is directed by Susanna White. Let’s hear it for #womeninfilm