For Reel


Bridge of Spies (2015)
October 28, 2015, 9:22 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Steven Spielberg
4 Stars
Bridge of SpiesBridge of Spies is a film of broad dualities, using the theme of doubles to articulate director Steven Spielberg’s humanitarianism. Although Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance) is a Soviet mole, much is made of his status as an ideal soldier–refusing to talk and displaying nothing but grace and dignity while in enemy hands. Similarly, lawyer James B. Donovan (Tom Hanks) is an upstanding citizen with great moral reserves, a Capra-esque hero who is called to uphold his (and by extension, America’s) belief system despite grueling public opposition. Their dueling sniffles further articulates their parallels (is this detail simply an innocent pun on the Cold War?). Spielberg’s sentimentality is at its best when articulating the respect that develops between the two men, even if elsewhere (such as a few-too-many misguided endings) it falters. Similarly, when Bridge of Spies loses focus on Abel and Donovan, he tends to lose his way–the miniature arcs regarding pilot Francis Gary Powers (Austin Stowell) and American student Frederic L. Pryor (Will Rogers) aren’t necessary to the plot because they don’t reveal anything more about Donovan’s convictions. But the opening sequence, following Abel and the men pursuing him with very little dialogue and a palpable sense of Cold War paranoia, and bold ideological edits such as the juxtapositions of a courtroom, schoolchildren, and a nuclear bomb, show a dynamism that speaks to Spielberg’s continuously evolving confidence as a storyteller.

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